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Merkel and Erdogan met in Ankara

Merkel and Erdogan met in AnkaraGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel is on her visit to Turkey on Thursday to meet President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the first time since July's failed coup, AFP reported.

Merkel will also meet Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and Turkish opposition figures during the sensitive one-day visit to Ankara, which has caused controversy at home and in Turkey.

Merkel arrived in Ankara in the early afternoon and headed to talks with Erdogan at his palace, with both sides expected to make a statement afterwards.

At a joint news conference with Merkel following their talks in Ankara, Erdogan said he and Merkel mainly discussed developments in Syria, Iraq and the Aegean Sea. Merkel said they had agreed on the need for closer cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

German Chancellor also stressed the importance of a free media and freedom of opinion in talks with Turkish President

Erdogan said he discussed cooperation in the fight against terrorism, the refugee crisis and possible mutual steps in Syria with Merkel.

The relationship between the two NATO allies has been battered in the last months by a series of rows in the wake of the July 15 failed coup aimed at ousting Erdogan.

Berlin has repeatedly expressed unease over the extent of the crackdown that has seen some 43,000 people arrested in the wake of the putsch, under a state of emergency that has now lasted over half a year.

Erdogan, meanwhile, has vented his exasperation that Germany has not responded to requests for the extradition of hundreds of suspects linked to the coup, the Kurdish militant movement and the ultra-left.

The number of asylum requests made to Germany from Turkish citizens has shot up from 1,700 in 2015 to 5,700 in 2016, likely due to the crackdown after the coup.

While Germany has expressed alarm over an alleged deterioration of press freedom in Turkey, Ankara wants Berlin to hand over the former opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper's editor-in-chief Can Dundar who escaped the country after the coup. Dundar has founded a new anti-Erdogan news portal in Germany - Ozguruz (We Are Free) - and been received as an honoured guest by officials including President Joachim Gauck.
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