BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany’s defense minister Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday said she would fly to Incirlik air base in southern Turkey on Friday to visit 250 German troops there, after Turkey’s prime minister this week reversed a ban on the trip.
Von der Leyen, speaking during a tour of German military facilities, said she had called her Turkish counterpart to offer condolences over the attack at Istanbul’s main airport on Tuesday that killed 41 people and wounded 239 others.
She said she assured Fikri Isik that Germany would continue to support Turkey in its fight against Islamic State, which U.S. officials and Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim suspect carried out the airport attack.
German lawmakers had reacted angrily to apparent efforts to block visits by politicians to the base, with some calling for an end to German deployments to Turkey.
Relations between Turkey and Germany have been strained for some time, but took a sharp turn for the worse in May after the German parliament passed a resolution declaring the 1915 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman forces was a genocide.
Germany sent troops, six Tornado surveillance jets and a tanker aircraft to Incirlik late last year as part of the U.S-led fight against Islamic State. Germany is also working closely with Turkey in the Aegean Sea to stop illegal migrant flows.
Von der Leyen also plans to look at the housing situation at the base before finalizing a 60 million euro ($66 million) deal for Germany to build new barracks, an air operations center and other facilities there.
Reporting by Sabine Siebold and Andrea Shalal; Editing by Louise Ireland