WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump said Saturday he has not been considering extraditing a U.S.-based Muslim cleric to Turkey in a shot to help relieve pressure on Saudi Arabia.
“No, it’s not you want,” Trump told reporters when inquired on potential extradition of Fethullah Gulen, who will be wanted in Turkey over accusations he was involved in a failed 2016 coup.
NBC News reported Thursday the Trump administration had explored whether or not this could extradite Gulen, so as to persuade Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to cure pressure on Saudi Arabia in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi during the Saudi consulate in Istanbul recently.
Trump has sought closer ties with Saudi Arabia, citing Riyadh’s role in countering Iranian influence in the community, and millions of dollars in potential arms deals.
The Justice Department had denied on Friday the challenge had been discussed.
On Saturday, Trump said she got along well with Erdogan, and spoke of a want to improve relations with Turkey. Actually is well liked described Saudi Arabia as “a completely spectacular ally when it comes to jobs and economic development.”
(Reporting by Pete Schroeder; Editing by Ros Russell)