Germany's president hopes for thaw in relations with Turkey

39;Erdogan's Germany visit to be milestone': Turkish FM

Responding to a question about Dundar from a journalist at the news conference, Merkel confirmed that Dundar had received accreditation for the event and that he had made the decision not to attend "by himself".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is pressing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the release of Germans still detained in Turkey in the wake of a crackdown following the country's 2016 coup attempt.

On Friday, hundreds of protesters gathered in Berlin, holding signs calling for an "end to German support for Erdogan" and urging the people of Turkey to "reject this would-be dictator", referring to the Turkish President.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president, was greeted with protests and controversy in Germany on Friday as a state visit that was supposed to fix relations between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies appeared only to highlight their stark divisions.

Germany has so far said it needs more proof to link the movement of the Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who lives in the United States, to the attempt to overthrow Erdogan.

Merkel noted that Germany considers the PKK Kurdish rebel group a terrorist organization and prosecutes its members, and said German authorities take Erdogan's information on Gulen seriously "but we need more material - what we have is not enough for a similar status to the PKK".

He added that it was "wholly unacceptable" that five German citizens were still imprisoned and that Turkey must move when it comes to the questions of democracy and the rule of law. But critics, including rights campaigners and German politicians, are angered by the red carpet treatment for a leader who has built an increasingly authoritarian reputation and just 18 months ago accused Berlin of "Nazi practices".

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Merkel said on Thursday she wanted to improve economic ties with Turkey but would raise human rights with Erdogan.

Dr Merkel herself has repeatedly stressed the importance of good relations with Ankara, a partner she relies on to help stem the flow of migrants to Europe.

He also singled out Can Dündar, the former editor of an opposition newspaper.

"I think this visit is significant because we can only clear up differences by talking to each other", she said.

Merkel said at a news conference alongside Erdogan Friday that she "pushed, and will continue to do so, for these cases to be resolved as quickly as possible".

Thousands of demonstrators marched through the streets of Berlin under a banner of "Erdogan not welcome", while a Kurdish activist burnt himself to death in an apparent suicide protest. That sent Turkish-German relations into a tailspin.

"We are pursuing the goal of increasing our trade and economic ties", Erdogan wrote in an article for Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine daily.

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