US Military Chief to Pay Landmark Visit to Turkey

ANKARA (Hurriyet)—The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, will begin a key visit to Turkey on Friday where he will meet, with among others, Turkey’s new military chief, Gen. Isik Kosaner.

“The purpose is to make a courtesy visit to Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Isik Kosaner,” US Embassy Spokesperson in Turkey, Deborah Guido, told Hurriyet.

“We haven’t set any agenda items. They will talk about issues in the region,” Guido said.

The landmark visit by Mullen, who is also the highest-ranking officer in the U.S. Armed Forces and President Obama’s principal military adviser, comes after U.S. political and military leaders marked the official end of combat operations in neighboring Iraq.

The Turkish government recently said negotiations were continuing with the United States regarding the use of Turkish soil to transfer American troops, arms and equipment out of Iraq, without elaborating further.

Some U.S. military equipment has already been transferred through Turkey since 2009 under an agreement that allows Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base to be used by American forces as a “logistics hub.” The U.S. pullout plans are proceeding despite high-level concerns over Iraq’s readiness to defend the country on its own.

The senior U.S. military official’s visit also comes after rising speculation that the U.S. Congress will veto arms deals to Turkey over growing problems with Turkish-Israeli ties. Last week, a diplomatic delegation headed by Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu held high-level talks with administration officials in Washington to address the issue.

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