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NATO’s secretary general calls on Germany, Turkey to end airbase dispute

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg talks to the media at NATO headquarters in Brussels, on July 13, 2017. (Photos by AFP)

NATO's secretary general has called on Turkey and Germany to put an end to their dispute over MPs visiting Turkish air bases.

On Sunday, a NATO spokesman said that Jens Stoltenberg had contacted German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Turkish Mevlut Cavusoglu and asked them to put an end to their dispute.

The disagreement began after Turkey refused to allow German lawmakers to visit military personnel at Incirlik and another base in Konya, located some 50 kilometers (150 miles) south of the Turkish capital Ankara.

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Turkey and Germany have been locked in a number of diplomatic disputes, including Turkey’s way of handling the aftermaths of a failed coup in July last year, which has sparked massive criticism in Germany.

Turkey’s refusal to grant access to German lawmakers came after Berlin blocked visits and speeches by senior Turkish officials to members of Turkish diaspora in Germany ahead of an April referendum in Turkey. Turkey is also critical of Germany over the country’s alleged support for suspected coup plotters and outlawed Kurdish militants. 

This file photo taken on January 21, 2016 shows German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen chatting with soldiers during a visit of the German Armed Forces Bundeswehr at the air base in Incirlik, Turkey. 

"We hope that Germany and Turkey are able to find a mutually acceptable date for a visit," said the NATO spokesman.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has stressed German lawmakers must be permitted to visit the Bundeswehr soldiers at the NATO air base in Konya.

"This whole issue is unfortunate, very unfortunate," she said during a televised interview. Merkel added that further talks were required to find a solution to the current predicament with the help of NATO.

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