Trump Didn’t Commit to Extraditing Turkish Cleric, Official Says

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump didn’t commit to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he would extradite a U.S.-based religious leader Turkey has accused of instigating an attempted coup, a senior White House official said.

Trump Didn’t Commit to Extraditing Turkish Cleric, Official Says

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Sunday that Trump had told Erdogan he was “working on” the extradition of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen at a meeting during the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires earlier this month. But the U.S. official, who asked not to be identified in order to discuss the private conversation, indicated Trump’s commitment did not extend beyond previous assurances to consider Turkey’s extradition request.

Gulen has publicly denied a role in the failed 2016 coup, and U.S. officials have thus far sidestepped repeated Turkish requests to turn over the cleric. Last month, Trump told reporters the extradition was “not under consideration.”

Washington’s reluctance to extradite Gulen is one of several points of tension between the U.S. and its NATO ally Turkey. The two countries have disagreed on a number of issues, including the U.S. response to the Saudi killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, Turkey’s plan to buy a missile-defense system from Russia, and the U.S. alliance with Kurdish militants in Syria that Turkey considers a foe.

Turkey earlier this year released Andrew Brunson, an American pastor who had been detained in the country on espionage charges, at Trump’s insistence.

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