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EU seeks summit with Turkey amid strained post-coup relations

The European Union is seeking a summit meeting with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the first half of next year to discuss the testy relations between the two.

As the 28-nation bloc's summit in Brussels ended, EU president Donald Tusk said he was given "a mandate" to set up a meeting with Turkey over the next months.

The EU and Turkey have a deal under which Turkey moves to stem the flow of migrants into Europe in return for billions of euros to take care of them there.

But Turkey and Brussels have been at loggerheads about Turkey's security crackdown since a failed coup in July.

Mr Tusk's office said that the meeting would probably be held after a regular EU summit in March.

Earlier this week, EU countries expressed deep concern about Turkey's crackdown but stopped short of officially freezing membership talks with the country - a move that is favoured by Austria.

German chancellor Angela Merkel, one of the migrant deal's main architects, stressed the importance of keeping lines of communication open.

"I don't think threats are the right answer," she said.

While EU members do not currently plan to open any new chapters in the long-running membership negotiations "everyone was aware that even if we have very critical remarks to make about some developments in Turkey, Turkey is our neighbour and we want to keep talking in the spirit of neighbourhood," Mrs Merkel said.

Her Austrian counterpart Christian Kern reiterated his country's position that "there is no question of EU accession for Turkey", but stressed that "Turkey is an important partner in dealing with the migration question, from a security policy point of view ... but also from an economic point of view".

AP

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