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‘No Arms Sale to Turkey Unless Jailed Journalist Yucel Is Released’

Germany’s top diplomat has said there would be no large-scale arms exports to Turkey unless Deniz Yucel, a Turkish-German journalist, is released from prison.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel dismissed media reports that an agreement for arms trade was sealed during Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s visit to Germany at the weekend.

Mr. Gabriel hosted his Turkish counterpart Cavusoglu at his home city of Goslar in a display of comity amid expressed desires for mending ties strained over a number of issues.

“We have both given ourselves the task to do everything to overcome the difficulties in German-Turkish relations,” Mr. Gabriel said at a joint press conference on Saturday.

The German foreign minister who is from Social Democratic Party (SPD) and an outspoken critic of the Turkish government for its crackdown on domestic opponents praised Turkey for its fight against Islamic State in Syria.

He even served tea to the visiting Cavusoglu at his home, giving a picture of cordiality that buttressed hopes for a thaw in relations.

After media reports of arms sale deal, Mr. Gabriel felt the need to clarify his previous remarks.

Though Turkey is a vital partner in the anti-ISIS fight, he noted, “German Federal Government does not approve a large number of arms export,” according to Deutsche Welle Turkce.

“This situation will remain like this unless [Deniz] Yucel case is resolved,” the German media outlet quoted him as saying.

The imprisonment of the journalist and other German nationals remains a source of enduring friction between two NATO allies.

Germany repeated calls for the release of Mr. Yucel and other German prisoners in Turkey.

The Turkish authorities have recently released a number of German nationals, including Journalist Mesale Tolu and a German pilgrim, fueling hopes for gradual, but steady, recovery of the normalcy in relations.

Berlin has emerged as the most vocal critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government in the aftermath of a failed coup in 2016 summer.

More than 150,000 public servants have been dismissed in a sweeping purge, and around 50,000 people, including generals, judges, prosecutors, police chiefs, diplomats and teachers, placed behind bars over real or perceived links to the coup.

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