Biden to voice support for Turkey, blast coup on visit

Vice President Joe Biden will emphasize Washington’s “ongoing strong support” for Turkey and condemn July’s failed coup attempt when he visits the country later this week, the White House said Monday, according to Anadolu Agency.

“That is a coup attempt that was roundly and publicly condemned by the United States government and we continue to strongly support the democratic government of our allies in Turkey,” spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters, adding that Biden, who will be the first White House official to visit Turkey since the attempted coup, will also “indicate his support for and appreciation for” Turkey’s contributions to the counter-Daesh effort.

The American vice president will, if asked during his Aug. 24 visit, reiterate that efforts to extradite U.S.-based Fetullah Gulen would be governed by “an extradition treaty that’s been on the books between the United States and Turkey for more than 30 years,” Earnest said.

During his one-day visit to the Turkish capital, Biden is scheduled to meet with high-level officials, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and Parliament Speaker Ismail Kahraman. A tour of the bombed parliament building is also planned.

Turkey accuses Gulen of masterminding the failed putsch and has demanded the U.S. extradite Gulen to face trial.

Earnest added that the decision is ultimately “not a presidential decision”, but rather one for the Justice Department.

“They certainly are going to do the due diligence that’s required to follow that process, to follow those guidelines and to arrive at a conclusion,” he said.

Coordination between Justice Department officials and their Turkish counterparts has been “extensive”, Earnest said.

A team from the department will visit Turkey this week to “meet with their counterparts to review some of the materials that have been produced by Turkish officials”, Earnest said.

Turkey’s government has said the defeated coup, which left 240 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured, was organized by followers of Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania since 1999, and his Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) network.

Gulen is accused of leading a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary, forming what is commonly known as the parallel state.