ISTANBUL – Turkey's foreign minister said Thursday that his country won't beg Germany to stay at its Incirlik airbase, while Berlin asked for U.S. help in defusing the latest spat between the two NATO allies.
Germany has some 270 troops stationed at Incirlik with Tornado reconnaissance jets and a refueling plane as part of the international coalition against the Islamic State group. However, it is considering relocating them to Jordan or another country after Turkey again refused to allow German lawmakers to visit the troops at Incirlik.
The German government says Turkey indicated the refusal was tied to German authorities' decision to grant asylum to Turkish soldiers accused by Ankara of participating in last year's failed coup.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told private NTV television that Turkey opened Incirlik to Germany as part of the anti-IS coalition, and "if they want to leave, that's up to them and we won't beg."
He aired a previous Turkish grievance over some German local authorities' decision to prevent him and other Turkish ministers from holding rallies before Turkey's April 16 referendum on expanding presidential powers.
"If what we are doing is blackmail, then what was that?" he said.
During a visit to Washington on Wednesday, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel asked for U.S. "support" in talks with Turkey on the Incirlik standoff.
"I think the Americans will use the possibilities they have to speak to the Turkish side about the fact that we have to have a different relationship with each other from the current one," Gabriel said after meeting Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
German military missions abroad need parliamentary approval, typically on an annual basis, and German leaders say it's essential for lawmakers to be granted access to troops serving abroad.