Merkel-Erdogan meet likely at NATO summit: Germany

The relationship with Turkey is one of Germany's most important outside Europe, in part due to its three-million-strong ethnic Turkish population

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is planning to meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a NATO summit Thursday in Brussels, her spokesman said.

"It is quite likely that a meeting with Turkish President Erdogan will take place on the sidelines of the summit," Steffen Seibert told a news conference Wednesday, adding that this was "the plan" but still subject to bilateral discussions.

If a meeting were confirmed, "there are of course a lot of topical issues that the chancellor would like to address", in particular "the right of German parliamentarians to visit our soldiers", Seibert said.

Ankara last week banned German MPs from visiting the Turkish base of Incirlik, where German soldiers are deployed as part of the international coalition against the jihadist Islamic State group in Syria.

The relationship with Turkey is one of Germany's most important outside Europe, in part due to its three-million-strong ethnic Turkish population, the legacy of a massive "guest worker" programme in the 1960s and 1970s.

But ties between the NATO allies have been badly strained especially since a failed coup in Turkey last year, and have worsened over multiple issues including a referendum campaign to expand Erdogan's powers.

Relations plunged further after Turkey imprisoned Deniz Yucel, a German-Turkish journalist with Die Welt, on terror charges earlier this year.

Ankara was angered after Germany granted political asylum to some Turkish military officers accused of involvement in the attempted putsch.

Germany has stationed 250 military personnel flying Tornado surveillance missions over Syria and refuelling flights for partner nations at the Incirlik base.

Amid the heightened tensions, a German parliamentary delegation has called off another planned Turkey trip, saying Wednesday that Ankara had made clear they were not welcome.

A foreign ministry spokesman said Wednesday that Berlin "regrets and laments" the fact the trip wouldn't go ahead, calling it "another missed opportunity" for dialogue.