Replaces US: Turkish PM meets Turkish-US opinion leaders with rewrite, fresh detail on think tank meeting, center visit

Ahead of a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence, Turkey’s prime minister met senior figures from the Turkish community in the U.S.

Wednesday evening’s two-hour meeting with more than 30 opinion leaders at the Turkish ambassador’s residence was closed to the media.

Binali Yildirim arrived in Washington on Tuesday and is due to travel to New York later Thursday.

His trip comes as relations between the U.S. and Turkey have been blighted by disagreements over a number of issues.

The most recent -- the visa crisis sparked by the arrests of Turkish employees at U.S. missions in Turkey -- has eased after both countries resumed issuing visas to each other’s citizens on a “limited basis” on Monday.

However, other issues remain, such as U.S. support for a group in Syria that Turkey has listed as a terrorist organization and the extradition of the man said to have orchestrated last year’s attempted coup in Turkey.

Yildirim is accompanied by Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Energy Minister Berat Albayrak and Justice and Development (AK) Party Deputy Chairman Mehmet Mus.

Diyanet visit

AK Party lawmakers Volkan Bozkir and Mustafa Sentop, Ambassador Serdar Kilic and Yildirim’s foreign affairs adviser Kerim Uras also attended Wednesday’s meeting.

Among those who met the Turkish delegation were leading figures from Washington-based think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation’s Luke Coffey, American-Turkish Council President Howard Beasey and Amanda Sloat from the Brookings Institute.

Todd Foley, vice president of the American Council on Renewable Energy, and Turkish Heritage Organization President Ali Cinar also attended.

The prime minister later met U.S. journalists and faced questions focused on U.S. support for the PKK/PYD in Syria and Turkey’s call to extradite Pennsylvania-based preacher Fetullah Gulen.

The PKK/PYD is the Syrian branch of the PKK, which has waged a 33-year terror campaign against Turkey, while Gulen heads the Fetullah Terrorist Organization behind last year’s coup attempt, in which 250 people were martyred.

The Turkish party also visited the Diyanet Center of America in Maryland, where Yildirim addressed U.S. Muslims.

The center, opened in late 2015 by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is run by Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs.

Yildirim is due to meet Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday at the White House.

AA