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US will help bring Turkey coup plotters to justice: Obama

US President Barack Obama committed to bringing those responsible for Turkey's attempted coup to justice
US President Barack Obama and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan smile for the cameras at a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hangzhou on 4 September, 2016 (AFP)

The United States is committed to bringing the perpetrators of the attempted coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to justice, President Barack Obama said on Sunday.

Ankara accuses US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen of being behind the July uprising.

At talks with Erdogan on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hangzhou, China, Obama said: "We will make sure that those who carried out these activities are brought to justice."

Tensions between the two NATO allies have risen sharply since the failed coup attempt against Erdogan on 15 July, with Ankara launching a wide-ranging crackdown and demanding that the US extradite Gulen.

A self-exiled former imam living in the eastern state of Pennsylvania, Gulen strongly denies any involvement with the bid to overthrow Erdogan. 

The dispute has soured public perceptions of the United States in Turkey and risks undermining a deep security relationship.

US officials insist they will extradite Gulen if Turkey can present proof he was actually involved.

The meeting in Hangzhou was the two leaders' first face-to-face encounter since the coup attempt.

Obama said the US was committed to "investigating and bringing the perpetrators of these illegal actions to justice" and assured Erdogan of American cooperation with Turkish authorities. 

Since July, Ankara has detained, removed from office, or arrested tens of thousands of people within the judiciary, military, education system and police force for alleged links to Gulen's movement or the coup itself. 

US-Turkey tensions have also been strained by Turkey's bombing of Kurdish positions in northern Syria.

The targets included Kurdish groups that are backed by Washington and seen by it as integral to the fight against the Islamic State (IS) group.

Ankara accuses them of being in league with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a group which has claimed responsibility for deadly attacks inside Turkey.

Merkel hopes for end to Turkey airbase row

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday she hoped Ankara would soon lift a ban on German lawmakers visiting a Turkish airbase that was imposed amid a row over the Armenian genocide.

Turkey last month stopped German MPs from visiting their troops stationed at the Incirlik base in southern Turkey, which is used to launch coalition raids against IS militants in Syria.

After meeting Erdogan at the G20 summit in China, Merkel said she was hopeful of progress on the issue.

"I think it is possible that in the coming days we will have good news about this completely justified request," Merkel said. 

The airbase ban came with tensions running high between Berlin and Ankara over a resolution by the lower house of the German parliament calling the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman forces during World War I a genocide.

Turkey vehemently rejects the genocide claim, arguing it was a collective tragedy in which both Turks and Armenians died.

The German government has stressed the Bundestag vote was non-binding, a move widely interpreted as a step to soothe Ankara, a key player in both the fight against IS and the European migrant crisis.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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