German defense minister sees Jordan potential to host troops

AP , Saturday 20 May 2017

Germany's defense minister said Saturday that a Jordanian air base she visited has "a lot of potential" as a possible alternative for German troops stationed in Turkey.

Turkey recently blocked a request for German lawmakers to visit their country's 270 soldiers at the country's Incirlik air base. This raised the possibility that Germany might relocate planes supporting the campaign against the Islamic State group.

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said Saturday that she is to meet Jordan's King Abdullah later in the day and that she was impressed by a visit a day earlier to the Azraq air base in Jordan.

"There is a lot of potential in this air base and we were very grateful for a very positive reception and a lot of support," she told reporters at the World Economic Forum's regional gathering in Jordan.

Germany has not made a final decision on a possible move and talks with Turkey are ongoing, she said, adding that "in case we will have to move, we would be prepared."

Von der Leyen said it's important for German parliamentarians to be able to visit German troops stationed abroad.

Jordan and Germany are part of a U.S.-led international military coalition against IS, which controls territory in Syria and Iraq, both neighbors of Jordan.

The dispute between Germany and Turkey over access to German troops at the Incirlik base follows a similar standoff last year. It is the latest in a long line of irritants in Turkish-German relations.

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