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NATO Chief Meets With Germany, Turkey Over Incirlik Base Dispute

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg says he has contacted Berlin and Ankara regarding their dispute over Turkey's refusal to allow German lawmakers to visit a Turkish air base where German servicemembers are stationed.

Stoltenberg said in an article published on May 21 in the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag that he was attempting to find a solution to the dispute, but he added he would not comment on Germany's suggestion that it might withdraw its forces from the Incirlik Air Base.

Berlin last week said it was considering withdrawing its planes and soldiers from Turkey, where they are supporting a multinational coalition in the battle against the Islamic State (IS) militant group in neighboring Syria and Iraq.

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen on May 20 said an air base in Jordan showed potential as a replacement should Germany be forced to leave Incirlik.

Turkey blocked a request for German lawmakers to visit their country's 270 troops at Incirlik. The Turkish move was seen in part as a response to fellow NATO member Germany's decision to grant political asylum to Turkish soldiers accused of involvement in a failed coup last July.

On May 18, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Germany was free to withdraw its troops from Incirlik and that Berlin should drop its "patronizing approach" to Ankara.

Based on reporting by AP, Bild am Sonntag, and Press TV