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US attitude to Gulen extradition has improved: Turkey

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim speaks during a meeting of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Ankara on August 9, 2016. (AFP)

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim says Washington’s attitude to the extradition of Fethullah Gulen has improved since the abortive coup of July 15 in Turkey.

The Turkish government accuses Gulen, the Pennsylvania-based cleric and opponent of the government, of being behind the failed coup. Ankara has called for the United States to extradite the preacher.

Washington has so far refused to extradite Gulen, saying it needs evidence of his involvement in the abortive coup.

Yildirim said Gulen’s network has an exclusive communication channel with 50,000 people using it.

The Turkish prime minister also stated that Ankara could not compromise with Washington over the extradition request.

"The main element improving our relations with the US is the extradition of Gulen, where there is no room for negotiation," Yildirim was quoted as saying by CNN Turk.

"Whether or not the anti-Americanism in Turkey will continue is also dependent on this."

On Friday, Turkey’s Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said a delegation of US officials will arrive in the Turkish capital regarding a formal request for the extradition.

Yildirim said US Vice President Joe Biden would visit Turkey on August 24.

The remarks by the Turkish premier came a day after Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara has received "positive signals" from Washington over the demand for the extradition of Gulen.

Earlier this month, Turkish authorities issued an arrest warrant for Gulen, who argues that the blame game could be a ploy by the ruling Justice and Development Party to cement its grip on power in Turkey.

Meanwhile, Istanbul prosecutor's office sent a letter to US authorities Saturday asking for the detention of Gulen.

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