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Germany moves closer to pulling troops from Turkey base

Staff Writer |
Angela Merkel's cabinet agreed on Wednesday to withdraw its troops from Turkey's Incirlik base, after last-ditch talks with Ankara failed to resolve an escalating row.

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The military personnel, Tornado surveillance jets and other hardware - deployed as part of the international coalition against the Isis jihadist group - will be moved to Jordan's Asraq base instead, said Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen.

Germany has had more than 250 troops stationed in Incirlik, flying surveillance missions over Syria and refuelling flights for partner nations battling the Isis jihadists.

But the deployment has become a bone of contention after Ankara repeatedly refused to allow German lawmakers to visit the base.

Ankara had first denied German parliamentarians the right to travel to the site for several months last year, angered by a Bundestag vote to recognise the Ottoman Empire's World War I-era massacre of Armenians as a genocide.

A fresh row over lawmakers' visits to the air base erupted last month.

This time, Ankara was protesting the fact that Berlin has offered political asylum to Turkish nationals accused of complicity in the July 2016 attempted coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel on Monday travelled to Turkey to hold last-ditch talks with his counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, but failed to sway Ankara.

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