Erdogan in Britain for talks with ‘valuable’ ally

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, waves to his supporters gathered outside his hotel in London. Erdogan is in London where he will meet Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Theresa May. (Presidential Press Service via AP)
Updated 13 May 2018

Erdogan in Britain for talks with ‘valuable’ ally

LONDON: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Britain was a “valuable and reliable” strategic ally after he arrived in the UK on Sunday ahead of talks with Prime Minister Theresa May.
Erdogan said he wanted to boost trade and security ties between London and Ankara, with Britain preparing to leave the European Union in March next year.
The three-day visit will see him spell out Turkey’s foreign policy strategy in a keynote speech on Monday before meeting May on Tuesday.
After arriving, Ergodan spoke Sunday at the annual Tatlidil Turkish-British forum, where he said he wanted to combine the UK’s financial power with Turkey’s operational resources.
“I see the strategic partnership between Turkey and the UK as a necessity, rather than a simple choice, for the interests of the two countries,” he said, in a speech broadcast by Turkey’s state-run TRT television.
“The cooperation we have with the UK is well beyond any mechanism that we established with other partners.”
“The UK is a strategic ally that we find valuable and reliable. We are ready to cooperate more with the UK in the post-Brexit in every field.”
Erdogan is campaigning for snap parliamentary and presidential elections on June 24.
He has drawn controversy for electioneering in Europe, where there are some three million Turks who are eligible to vote in Turkish elections.
The expatriate vote is generally a source of support for Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
The early election is set to accelerate Turkey’s transition to the new presidential system with full executive powers which critics fear will lead to one-man rule.
May is under pressure from parliamentarians and rights groups to raise civil liberties issues with Erdogan.
“The Turkish authorities have deliberately set about dismantling civil society, locking up human rights defenders, shutting down organizations and creating a suffocating climate of fear,” said Kate Allen, Amnesty International’s UK director.
The group said Erdogan’s nationwide crackdown has resulted in mass arrests, a silencing of activists in the country and the near-destruction of Turkey’s legal system.
May’s spokesman said: “The visit is an opportunity for the UK and Turkey to demonstrate our close bilateral relationship and to have important discussions about issues of shared interest.”
It is not known if Erdogan will be meeting British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who in 2016 won a prize that called for rude poems about Erdogan in solidarity with a German comedian facing prosecution for doing the same.
He won the prize for a limerick about a “young fellow from Ankara” who “sowed his wild oats / With the help of a goat / But he didn’t even stop to thankera.”
Speaking to reporters at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport before leaving for Britain, Erdogan said the economy, security, defense and the fight against terror were the priority areas in the two NATO allies’ relationship.
There are growing concerns over Turkey’s economic health, notably due to a wide current account deficit and fears the economy is overheating.


Afghanistan car bombing kills at least 30 security force personnel

Updated 6 min 25 sec ago

Afghanistan car bombing kills at least 30 security force personnel

  • Blast targeted a compound of the public protection force, a wing of the Afghan security forces
  • No one has claimed responsibility for the attack

KABUL: A car bombing in the Afghanistan’s central province of Ghazni killed at least 30 Afghan security force members on Sunday, officials said, and casualties could increase given the intensity and location of the blast.
Baz Mohammad Hemat, director of the provincial hospital in Ghazni, said 30 bodies and 24 injured people had been transported there. “All of the victims are security personnel,” he said.
The blast targeted a compound of the public protection force, a wing of the Afghan security forces, local officials said. It damaged civilian residences around the compound, and there could be more casualties from there, they said.
Interior ministry spokesman Tariq Arian confirmed that there had been a car bomb blast but did not provide further information on the target or possible casualties.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, when contacted by Reuters, did not confirm or deny responsibility.
Afghanistan has seen a spate of car bombings over the last few months, despite peace talks being under way between negotiation teams of the insurgent Taliban and the government in the Qatari capital of Doha.
Violence in the country, at war for two decades, remains unacceptably high, foreign governments and institutions say, calling for an immediate cease-fire between the Afghan government and Taliban.
Another bombing on Sunday, in the eastern province of Zabul, targeting a top provincial official, killed at least one person and injured 23, said Gul Islam Syaal, the spokesman for the province’s governor.
Hajji Ata Jan Haqbayan, head of the provincial council of Zabul, suffered minor injuries in the attack on his convoy.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack on Haqbayan, an outspoken critic of the Taliban.