Merkel to visit Turkey February 2nd
ANKARA - German Chancellor Angela Merkel is planning to visit Turkey on February 2, the Turkish foreign ministry said Thursday, her first visit since relations deteriorated last year in the aftermath of the July failed coup.
Relations have strained significantly in the wake of the coup bid, with Berlin expressing alarm over the relentless crackdown against the alleged plotters and Ankara saying Germany was failing to extradite terror suspects.
"Angela Merkel is planning to visit on February 2," Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Huseyin Muftuoglu said.
"There are strong relations between Turkey and Germany in every field. Our common efforts to further develop relations and cooperation with each other continue on the right path," Muftuoglu told reporters in Ankara.
Merkel would be one of few top Western leaders to have visited Ankara in the wake of the July 15 coup bid.
Then US vice president Joe Biden visited on August 24 while British Prime Minister Theresa May is coming to Ankara on Saturday.
Merkel is expected to discuss the refugee crisis during her visit as well as cooperation against the terrorism threat.
Relations between Berlin and Ankara -- crucial given the large Turkish minority in Germany -- have strained due to a range of factors.
Erdogan launched a criminal complaint against German TV comic Jan Boehmermann, who had insulted him in a so-called "defamatory poem" in March last year.
Turkey has baulked at Berlin's repeated expressions of concern over the scope of the post-coup crackdown after some 43,000 people were arrested accused of links to the coup plotters.
Berlin has also criticised Turkey over the arrest of opposition figures and MPs from the main pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP).
Turkish officials have often responded with claims that Germany harbours "terrorists" from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and other banned groups.
Muftuoglu added that Turkey had relayed to Germany its unease over a reception invitation by German Justice Minister Heiko Maas to an exiled Turkish journalist.
Cumhuriyet's former editor-in-chief, Can Dundar, fled to Germany in 2016 while appealing against a prison term for revealing state secrets.