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Germany and Turkey's top diplomats hold talks amid tensions

Relations have been strained after the arrest of numerous German citizens in Turkey
Russia's President Vladimir Putin, President of the European Council Donald Tusk, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrive for a family photo of the participants of the G20 summit in Hamburg, northern Germany (AFP)

The top diplomats of Germany and Turkey on Saturday met for previously unannounced talks in a southern Turkish resort, as a range of bitter rows strain ties between the two NATO allies.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu hosted German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel for the informal talks in Antalya, both sides said in statements on Twitter.

Berlin has been outraged by the detention of German nationals under Turkey's state of emergency imposed after last year's failed coup, while Ankara has accused Germany of meddling in its affairs.

The meeting is the first between the two diplomats since tensions reached a new peak in the run-up to the German elections on 24 September.

"I met my colleague @sigmargabriel in Antalya informally to discuss bilateral relations; including the difficult issues and mutual expectations," Cavusoglu wrote on Twitter. 

The German foreign ministry issued a similar statement.

Pictures showed the two men, dressed in jackets without ties, chatting informally under blue skies in Antalya, Cavusoglu's home region.

The meeting comes just over a week after German activist Peter Steudtner was released following his arrest along with members of Amnesty International in July on disputed terror charges.

Another German citizen, who was not identified, was also released in a separate case but cannot leave the country, the German foreign ministry said Friday.

But nine Germans still remain behind bars in Turkey including most prominently Die Welt daily correspondent Deniz Yucel, who was arrested in February, and German journalist Mesale Tolu.

Gabriel had last month thanked former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who retains warm personal ties with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for helping broker the releases.

But Ankara denied any such deal.

The tensions have risen into one of the worst ever crises between Turkey and Germany, which is home to a large Turkish minority. Berlin has repeatedly expressed scepticism about the future of Turkey's EU membership bid.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged a cut in EU funding linked to Turkey's membership talks to signal the bloc's unhappiness over the crackdown in the wake of the failed July 2016 coup.

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