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German MPs visit Konya NATO base in Turkey

After months of delays, a group of German lawmakers visited 30 Bundeswehr troops stationed at a NATO base in Turkey. Ankara had been blocking the visits due to the ongoing diplomatic struggle with Berlin.

Seven German lawmakers visited Bundeswehr soldiers stationed at the Konya air base in Turkey on Friday. The seven lawmakers travelled to central Turkey to visit the troops who provide support for the US-led military coalition fighting the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) group. The media were not allowed access to the visit.

The visit came amid a worsening of diplomatic relations between the NATO allies. Germany has cautioned its citizens about travelling to Turkey after a series of arrests involving German nationals, but the Foreign Ministry has stopped short of an outright travel warning. 

Turkey has accused Germany of assisting terrorists by not responding to files sent to Berlin and failing to hand over suspects wanted by Turkish authorities.

A spokesman for the German foreign office in Berlin said on Friday that the current situation was "not a long-term, viable solution," according to the dpa news agency. 

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Following the failed coup last summer, the deteriorating rule of law in Turkey has prompted Germany to call for an end to Ankara's bid to enter the European Union.

NATO intervention

Ankara cited the strained ties when blocking an earlier visit by German MPs to the NATO airbase in July.

The approval to the visit came after NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg intervened on behalf of the German lawmakers. Some 30 Bundeswehr soldiers are stationed at the Konya base as part of a NATO mission.

In June, Germany withdrew 260 troops from the Incirlik air base - which is not a NATO base - in southeast Turkey and relocated them to Jordan after repeated refusals by Ankara to let lawmakers visit German soldiers stationed there.

Germany's armed forces are under parliamentary control and each troop deployment is decided by a vote in the German parliament, Bundestag. Berlin insists lawmakers must have access to them.

ap/jm (dpa, Reuters, AFP)

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