British PM May turns to Turkey for trade talks

The PM drew flak for becoming the first Western leader to visit President Recep Tayyip Erdogan since his bloody coup clampdown in July past year.

During a later press conference with Turkey's prime minister Binali Yildirim, Mrs May also revealed she had agreed a new security partnership with him.

But she fought back to insist it was also "vital" to hold security talks with the Turkish regime about fighting ISIS, as well as map out another post-Brexit trade deal.

Ahead of her arrival in Ankara, Mrs May had been under pressure to confront Mr Erdogan over human rights, as his crackdown on dissent following last summer's failed coup has seen thousands of officials jailed and several media outlets closed.

Her Turkey visit follows a visit to the United States where she met President Donald Trump to mark the beginning of a new relationship with the new White House administration.

As Mr Erdogan looked on stony-faced, the PM told him: "I'm proud that the United Kingdom stood with you on the 15 July previous year in defence of democracy".

In Ankara to strengthen ties with Turkey as she navigates Britain's departure from the European Union, Prime Minister Theresa May hailed the deal, saying it showed "that Britain is a great, global, trading nation and that we are open for business".

May has previously said the nature of the "special relationship" between Britain and the United States meant the allies could speak frankly to each other when they disagreed.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, who met with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington, is due to arrive in Turkey for a meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan - another important but complicated British ally.

A new trading relationship with Turkey following the UK's exit from the European Union would form part of discussions, Number 10 said.

Amnesty International said that the human rights situation across Turkey had "deteriorated markedly" during the state of emergency imposed by Mr Erdogan and urged Mrs May to ask "probing questions" about allegations that those in detention have suffered ill treatment.

The premier is also expected to discuss security, May's spokeswoman said.

Ms May's spokeswoman has said Turkey would be the 13th country to set up a working group on trade with Britain.

Mr Erdogan told reporters that he discussed steps toward defence industry cooperation with Ms May, and that he hoped to increase annual trade with Britain to $US20 billion ($26.5 billion) from $US15.6 billion ($20.8 billion) now.

  • Joey Payne