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France says question marks over Turkey's role in fight with Islamic State

by Reuters
Sunday, 17 July 2016 12:20 GMT

PARIS, July 17 (Reuters) - France's foreign minister said on Sunday that questions needed to be asked on whether Turkey was a viable partner in the fight against Islamic State in Syria.

"There are questions that are being asked and we will ask them. It (Turkey) is partly viable, but there are suspicions as well. Let's be honest about this," Jean-Marc Ayrault told France 3 television.

He said he would raise the issue at meeting of the anti-Islamic state coalition in Washington next week.

A French official later sought to clarify Ayrault's comments, saying he had not meant to put in question Turkey's viability in the fight against Islamic State, and that Ankara remained a crucial partner for the coalition to that end.

"Turkey is a big country, a country that has a strategic role, is a NATO member, the biggest border with Syria and welcomes some 2.5 million Syrian refugees and is an ally," Ayrault said in the interview.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's supporters rallied in public squares, at Istanbul airport and outside his palace overnight in a show of defiance after a failed coup attempt on Friday killed at least 265 people and raised expectations of a heavy crackdown on dissent.

(Reporting By John Irish; Editing by Andrew Callus)

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