UPDATE – Turkish president warns Benin against FETO threat

UPDATES WITH REMARKS FROM TURKISH, BENINESE PRESIDENTS

By Diyar Guldogan

ANKARA (AA) – President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday warned Benin against the threat of Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).

"FETO, this organization is a virus. It disguises and infiltrates any country and any place," Erdogan said at a joint news conference with his Beninese counterpart Patrice Talon at the Presidential Complex in the capital Ankara.

Erdogan hopes for the purging of FETO connections in Benin as soon as possible.

FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.

"The U.S. allocates 400 acres of land to him [Gulen] and he manages his organization in all over the world from that land," Erdogan said.

He added the U.S. pays $800-850 million annually for this organization from the FETO-linked charter schools.

Erdogan said he attached great importance to what and who are behind this organization.

– 'Fruitful meeting'

The president said Africa is an "important" continent for Turkey and that his country is aiming to increase the number of embassies from 41 to 54 across the continent.

Describing the meeting with Talon as "fruitful", Erdogan said they discussed bilateral relations and steps to increase ties in the areas of economy, politics, culture and military.

About bilateral trade volume which stood at $115 million in 2017, Erdogan said it was not at the desired level.

The president added opening embassies in the countries accelerated the bilateral relations.

The Embassy of Turkey in Cotonou opened in 2014, while Beninese Embassy in Ankara opened in 2013. Benin has also Honorary Consulate in Istanbul.

For his part, Talon said Benin expects Turkey's ongoing development to have an impact on Africa, adding: "Because Turkey has a substantial knowledge and specialty, Africa should benefit from it."

Talon added Benin wants to host Turkish companies.

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