image: David Cameron – credit: DFID
By Hussein Abdel Fattah
In his first visit to Turkey since 2010, Prime Minister David Cameron will discuss today with Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdogan co-operation against neighboring Islamic state.
Turkey, which is considered a key ally in the war against IS in Syria and northern Iraq, is a pathway for hundreds of British citizens who travelled to the Middle East to take part in the ongoing fighting.
Over 500 British citizens joined forces with IS and around half of them are thought to have returned to Britain.
Christopher Hope, Telegraph’s senior political correspondent said that one of the key points on Cameron’s trip will be to try to persuade Turkey’s commercial airlines to provide information about their passengers who are flying direct to the UK.
This is a fraction of a number of the 2.5 million British national visiting Turkey each year, mostly for tourism.
But aside from being a main touristic destination, Turkey shares hundreds of kilometres in borders with the troubled Syria and Turkey.
Another point to be discussed by Cameron with Turkish president and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu will be a possible direct Turkish military involvement against the IS fighters.
The international alliance against IS, announced by the US president Barack Obama last September, will receive major support by the joining of NATO’s only Muslim state member.
The visit comes in the wake of a report published by aid agencies calling for the UK and other “rich” countries to accept more of the 3.6 Syrian refugees displaced since the civil war began in 2011.
Turkey alone hosts 1.6 million of the refugees, most of them suffering harsh living conditions.
A European commission headed by Federica Mogherini, currently also visiting Turkey pledged to add €10 to the EU’s €187.5 million aid to help Syrian refugees in Turkey .
Mogherini said in the statement “Europe stands firmly with Turkey and is determined to play its role to the full to bring a lasting political solution to this regional crisis and humanitarian strategy”.