Turkish opposition leader Kilicdaroglu in the US

Turkey's opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu met with US congressmen and representatives of Fethullah Gulen's Hizmet Movement in Washington.

Turkish opposition leader Kilicdaroglu in the US

World Bulletin / News Desk

Chairman of Turkey's Republican People's Party (CHP) Kemal Kilicdaroglu continued his Washington talks on Tuesday, as part of his first visit to the US as the chairman of Turkey's main opposition party.

Kilicdaroglu came together with the US House of Representatives Majority Leader Congressman Eric Cantor, a meeting in which the Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Ed Royce, CHP Deputy Chairmen Faruk Logoglu and Sezgin Tanrikulu were also present.

Later on, the Turkish main opposition leader held seperate meetings with the co-Chairmen of the Turkey Friendship Group in the US House of Representatives, Republican Party Representative of Kentucky Ed Whitfield and Democratic Party Representative for Tennessee Steve Cohen.

On Tuesday he enjoyed an evening meal with three American Jewish community representatives and congress representative parliament public relations committee member Alan Makovsky at the popular Café Milano in Georgetown, where he was asked about his opinions on Israel and Hamas. While stating his belief that Turkey should improve its relations with Israel, he avoided referring to Hamas as a terrorist organization.

Kilicdaroglu visits Hizmet Movement representatives

On Wednesday morning, Kilicdaroglu also visited the Turkish-American Association (TAA), which is one of many organizations operating under Fethullah Gulen's Hizmet Movement.

Although Kilicdaroglu was scheduled to meet representatives of the movement on Sunday, no such meetings were known to have taken place. On Tuesday, Kilicdaroglu also avoided answering a question that was posed to him about his stance on the Gulen-led religious community at a conferences at the Brookings Institute.

Deputy party leader Faruk Logoglu, Sezgin Tanrıiulu, Faik Oztirak, Enver Altay and MPs Aytun Ciray, Kamer Genc and Aykan Erdemir were also part of the delegation visit which lasted around 90 minutes.

Turkish religious leader Fethullah Gulen, who heads the most politically influential religious community in Turkey, has been living in self-exile in the US since 1999. Although his followers have for long been considered the back-bone behind the success of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), recent weeks have seen an intensification in the fall-out between the Hizmet Movement and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan after the latter announced moves to close prep schools in Turkey.

Gulen's movement, which owns a large proportion of the prep schools and relies on them as a key source of income, have thus demonstrated their opposition to Erdogan's proposals, indicating a split between to two former allies.

Many analysts have predicted that the movement will now switch its allegiance to the main political opposition CHP ahead of local elections. Kilicdaroglu's visit has already been interpreted by many as a sign of a new alliance between CHP and Fethullah Gulen.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 04 Aralık 2013, 14:57