Erdogan Says Will Meet Obama, Other Leaders at Summit This Week

ISTANBUL (Reuters) -
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan talks at a business forum during a visit in Lima, Peru, February 3, 2016. REUTERS/Janine Costa
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. (Reuters/Janine Costa)

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday he would hold talks with U.S. President Barack Obama while attending a summit on nuclear security in Washington this week, putting to rest questions about whether the leaders would meet.

The duration and agenda of the meeting depends on events, Erdogan told reporters at a news conference before flying to the United States. He will also meet with other leaders, he said.

Erdogan also said he wants U.S. authorities to take steps against a network of schools run by a movement affiliated with Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, a Turk who lives in Pennsylvania whose suspected followers in the Turkish police and judiciary opened a corruption probe into government officials.

The arrest last week in Florida of a Turkish-Iranian gold trader who was at the center of that graft investigation is not a concern for Turkey, Erdogan said.

In related security news, data released Tuesday showed that the number of foreign visitors coming to Turkey tumbled 10 percent in February, the biggest drop in a decade, as widening security concerns ate into a major source of revenue for the economy.

Tourist interest in Turkey could drop further after another suicide bomber blew himself up on Istanbul’s most popular shopping thoroughfare this month.

Tourism fell by 10.32 percent year-on-year in February, to 1.24 million people, the data from the tourism ministry showed.

The decline was the biggest since October 2006. The industry is also suffering from a chill in relations with Russia – typically a major source of tourism revenue for Turkey – and Russian visitors fell by more than half during the month.

Relations between Moscow and Ankara have worsened after Turkey shot down a Russian jet over Syria last year.

Economists have forecast that tourism revenue will drop by a quarter this year, costing the country around $8 billion.