German army set to pull out of key Turkey base: Defence minister

The German army is set to transfer its troops from a key base in Turkey to Jordan, Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said Monday, after talks broke down with Ankara on the subject.

The Incirlik base in southern Turkey has been at the centre of a dispute between the NATO allies since Ankara blocked a visit by German parliamentarians last month.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. AFP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. AFP

"It is unacceptable that our deputies cannot visit the troops," the German minister said.

Her announcement came after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told a joint news conference with his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel in Ankara that German MPs could still not visit Incirlik.

The German cabinet will meet on Wednesday to decide on an eventual move for the 280 military personnel concerned, plus 10,000 tonnes of materiel, Von der Leyen said.

"We are ready for a transfer," she said, adding that a "comparable alternative" had been identified at the Azraq air base in Jordan and that King Abdullah supported the move.

Van der Leyen said the transfer would "naturally mean an interruption in our air intervention" of around two or three weeks as part of the international coalition fighting the Islamic State group.

The German military stationed at Incirlik flies Tornado surveillance missions over areas of Syria controlled by the jihadists and refuelling flights for partner nations.

A move could entail a gap in the Tornado flights of up to three months, the defence minister said.

Turkey justified preventing the German parliamentary group from visiting Incirlik by accusing Berlin of having offered political asylum to Turkish nationals who took part in a July 2016 attempted coup.

Published Date: Jun 05, 2017 22:42 PM | Updated Date: Jun 05, 2017 22:42 PM

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