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US pledges to help bring Turkey coup plotters to justice as G20 opens

Greg Baker, AFP | China's President Xi Jinping (C) and G20 leaders pose for family photo in Hangzhou on September 4, 2016.

The US is committed to bringing the perpetrators of the attempted coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to justice, President Barack Obama said Sunday, as the two leaders met during the official opening of the G20 summit in Hangzhou.

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Ankara accuses US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen of being behind the July uprising.

At talks with Erdogan on the sidelines of the G20 summit, Obama said: "We will make sure that those who carried out these activities are brought to justice."

Tensions between the two NATO allies have risen sharply since the failed coup attempt against Erdogan on July 15, with Ankara launching a wide-ranging crackdown and demanding that the US extradite Gulen.

An exiled former imam living in the eastern state of Pennsylvania, Gulen strongly denies any involvement with the bid to overthrow Erdogan.

The dispute has soured public perceptions of the United States in Turkey and risks undermining a deep security relationship. US officials insist they will extradite Gulen only if Turkey can present proof he was actually involved.

The meeting in Hangzhou was the two leaders' first face-to-face encounter since the coup attempt.

Obama said the US was committed to "investigating and bringing the perpetrators of these illegal actions to justice" and assured Erdogan of Washington's cooperation with Turkish authorities.

Negotiations under way

US-Turkey tensions have also been strained by Turkey's bombing of Kurdish positions in northern Syria. The targets included Kurdish groups who are backed by Washington and seen by it as integral to the fight against the Islamic State group. Ankara accuses them of being in league with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a group which has claimed responsibility for deadly attacks inside Turkey.

Obama also said that American diplomats would continue to pursue a deal with Russia to address the violence in Syria. He said the US and Russia still have "grave differences" about what's needed to end Syria's civil war and which opposition groups are legitimate targets for US and Russian military incursions.

"I think it's premature for us to say there's a clear path forward, but there's the possibility at least for us to make some progress," Obama said.

As the G20 summit got under way on Sunday, French President François Hollande told reporters that his three priorities for the talks were the ratification of the COP21 environmental agreement “as quickly as possible”, efforts to halt the financing of terrorism and a clampdown on tax havens.

Hollande also repeated warnings against a hasty conclusion to controversial US-EU trade deals, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Transatlantic Free Trade Area.

“France believes in globalisation, but it must be regulated,” he told journalists. “It must be principled, and there must be agreed norms, above all for the environment and for the social good.”

“I will not accept commercial agreements that are not built around these principles,” he said.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP)

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