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Kerry to Visit Turkey Amid Strained Ties After Failed Coup

ANKARA:U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to arrive in Turkey later this month, Turkey’s foreign minister said Friday, amid strained relations with Washington over the possible extradition of a Muslim cleric accused of being behind an attempted military coup last month.
The Turkish government has expressed growing annoyance with what it regards as a lack of solidarity from international allies in the aftermath of the failed coup, as well as increased frustration over perceived foot-dragging by the United States over a Turkish demand that U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen be returned to Turkey to face trial.
Turkey accuses Gulen, a former ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, of masterminding the July 15 coup attempt by renegade officers in Turkey’s military. It has designated his movement, which runs charities, schools and businesses across the world, as a terrorist organization and has launched a widespread crackdown on suspected members since the failed coup.
Gulen has denied involvement or prior knowledge of the violent coup attempt that left more than 270 people dead. Washington for its part, has asked for evidence of the cleric’s involvement, and has said the extradition process must be allowed to take its course.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Kerry was scheduled to arrive in Turkey Aug. 24, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported. He also spoke of the possibility of a separate visit by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.
Turkey on Thursday issued a warrant for Gulen’s arrest for ordering the failed coup, a move seen as prelude to a formal extradition request.
Since the coup attempt, nearly 70,000 people suspected of links to Gulen have been suspended or dismissed from jobs in the civil service, judiciary, education, health care and the military. And about 18,000 people have been detained or arrested, mostly from the military, on suspicion of being involved in the failed putsch. European officials and human rights groups have expressed concern over the crackdown.
On Friday, the ruling party instructed its local branches and party-led municipalities to purge themselves of suspected Gulen supporters.
Anadolu said the Justice and Development Party, founded by Erdogan, issued a circular ordering its members to “immediately start efforts to purge those linked to the (Gulen movement) or who gave support to the reprehensible coup.”
The circular was issued hours before Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev arrived in Turkey, becoming the first foreign head of state to visit since the failed coup. Turkey is also pressing its allies to crack down on Gulen-linked schools and charities and was expected to ask the Kazakh leader to shut down Gulen-run establishments in his Central Asian nation.
The crackdown has also expanded to journalists and former employees of Gulen-linked media. On Friday, Anadolu said 12 journalists who used to work for Zaman newspaper were formally arrested pending trial, including columnist Mumtazer Turkone. Six other journalists were jailed pending trial last week.



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