Turkey, France foreign ministers meet after months of tension

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The foreign ministers of Turkey and France on Monday held talks in Paris, in a rare high-level meeting after months of tensions over international crises and French domestic legislation against radical Islam.

France’s Jean-Yves Le Drian hosted Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu for talks ahead of NATO and EU summits later this month, the French foreign ministry said in a statement.

They discussed Libya, Syria, the Mideast peace process and NATO cooperation, including “the values and principles that sustain the (NATO) alliance,” it said.

“We aim to strengthen our relations with France on the basis of mutual respect,” Cavusoglu wrote on Twitter after the meeting.

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Tensions between Paris and Ankara have been running high after a series of public rows between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Emmanuel Macron, who warned in March that Turkey would meddle in 2022 presidential elections.

The pair have locked horns over a series of international crises including Libya, Syria and Nagorno-Karabakh.

Macron has suggested Ankara’s unilateral moves on the international stage have contributed to a “brain death” of NATO, where Turkey is a key member.

A new law against “Islamist” extremism which the French government introduced after a series of attacks also aroused Erdogan’s ire, with the Turkish leader accusing France of Islamophobia.

The relationship between Macron and Erdogan hit a low last year when the Turkish leader said his French counterpart needed “mental checks.”

Erdogan in December then expressed hope that France would “get rid of” Macron as soon as possible, describing the president as “trouble” for the country.

But there have been tentative signs of an easing of tensions in the last months, with Turkey reaffirming its commitment to EU integration.

Meanwhile a UN-led peace process that saw a new interim unity government installed in Libya earlier this year has also removed a major point of conflict between Paris and Ankara even as Macron insists that all Turkish forces must leave the country.

“Everything must be done to ensure that the political, security and electoral transition calendar is respected and that the ceasefire is translated into reality,” the French foreign ministry said on Libya.

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