Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, take part in a joint press conference in Berlin, Germany, Friday, Sept. 28, 2018. Erdogan is on a three-day official state visit to Germany.(AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

The Latest: Merkel presses for release of Germans in Turkey

September 28, 2018 - 7:20 am

BERLIN (AP) — The Latest on the Turkish president's visit to Germany (all times local):

1:15 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is pressing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the release of Germans still detained in Turkey in the wake of a crackdown following the country's 2016 coup attempt.

The detentions have been one of the deepest irritants to German-Turkish relations recently. Germany says 35 Germans in total were imprisoned on what it considers political grounds. The most prominent have been released, but five remain in Turkish custody.

Merkel said at a news conference alongside Erdogan Friday that she "pushed, and will continue to do so, for these cases to be resolved as quickly as possible."

She said there is "a common strategic interest in good relations." But she added that "on questions of how a democratic, free and open society looks, there are also deep ... differences."

___

12:40 p.m.

An exiled Turkish journalist says he won't attend a press conference in Germany with Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after learning the Turkish leader was considering canceling if he were there.

Can Dundar, the former editor of Turkey's opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper, said Friday in a video message on Twitter that he believed German journalists would ask questions on his behalf.

He says: "Erdogan would have canceled the press conference using me as an excuse and would have avoided answering questions."

Dundar was convicted in 2016 of revealing state secrets after his newspaper published photographs suggesting that Turkey's intelligence agency was involved in sending weapons to Syrian rebels, and fled for Germany that year.

Erdogan, who says Dundar is a terrorist, is on a three-day visit to Germany.

___

9:50 a.m.

Germany's president is entering talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with the hope that the state visit leads to a thaw in relations between the two NATO allies.

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier told the RND media group Friday that the three-day visit to Germany isn't "an expression of normalization (of relations), we are a long way from that, but it could be a start."

The two countries are strategically critical to one another, with Turkey looking to Germany and the European Union for help with its economic woes, and the EU counting on Ankara to reduce the flow of migrants to Europe.

But they've clashed over numerous issues to the point where Erdogan accused German officials of acting like Nazis, prompting Chancellor Angela Merkel to condemn the Turkish president's words.

___

The item timed at 12:40 p.m. has been corrected to say that Dundar said he 'believed' journalists would ask questions for him, not that they had assured him.

AP Editorial Categories: 
Comments ()