John Kerry arrives in Ankara seeking support for anti-IS coalition

US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Ankara Friday for talks aimed at building a coalition against Islamic State jihadists, a visit that comes after Turkey said it would not allow its air bases to be used for strikes on the extremists.

AFP| Last Updated: Sep 12, 2014, 17:57 PM IST

Ankara: US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Ankara Friday for talks aimed at building a coalition against Islamic State jihadists, a visit that comes after Turkey said it would not allow its air bases to be used for strikes on the extremists.

The top US diplomat, touring the Middle East to establish a coalition of more than 40 countries, is to meet with Turkey`s leaders including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for talks on measures to defeat the militants in Iraq and Syria.

Turkey, a NATO member and Washington`s key ally in the region, is reluctant to take part in combat operations against Islamic State militants, or allow a US-led coalition to attack jihadists from its territory.

On the eve of the visit, a Turkish official told AFP: "Our hands and arms are tied because of the hostages."

The official added that Turkey will "not be involved in any armed operation but will entirely concentrate on humanitarian operations."

IS militants hold 49 Turks hostage, including diplomats and children, abducted from the Turkish consulate in Mosul in Iraq in June.

Kerry is also due to meet with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

The visit comes a day after 10 Arab states, including heavyweight Saudi Arabia, agreed in Jeddah to rally behind Washington in the fight against IS.

On arriving in Ankara, Kerry said that the US would provide an additional $500 million (385 million euros) in humanitarian aid to victims of the war in Syria, bringing total American assistance to $2.9 billion since the start of the conflict in 2011.

"This is the largest funding announcement made by the United States in response to the largest appeal the United Nations has ever issued," a statement said.