ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey’s foreign minister described as “unfortunate” on Friday comments by the head of U.S. national intelligence suggesting that purges in the Turkish military after a failed coup were harming cooperation in the fight against Islamic State.
“If they (the Americans) ask whether the fight against Daesh (Islamic State) has been weakened due to the army purge, we say that, on the contrary, when the army has been cleansed...it becomes more trustworthy, clean and effective in the fight,” Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters.
Turkey has launched a major overhaul of its military following the July 15-16 coup aimed at rooting out supporters of a U.S.-based Muslim cleric whom Ankara regards as the mastermind of the attempted putsch.
Cavusoglu also tried to play down Western concerns about a tentative rapprochement between Turkey and Russia following a period of strain, saying relations with Moscow were not an alternative to NATO and the European Union. Turkey is a NATO ally and a candidate for EU membership.
Reporting by Tulay Karadeniz; Writing by Gareth Jones; Editing by Daren Butler