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Turkey-U.S. business councils delay annual meeting once again

Turkey-U.S. business councils delay annual meeting once again

A top U.S.-Turkish business conference has been delayed for the second time in six months.

The meeting, due to be held next week in partnership between the American-Turkish Council (ATC) and the Turkish-American Business Council (TAIK), has been rescheduled for April, a year after it was originally supposed to be held, according to an e-mail to participants.

Last Friday’s decision to release U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson from custody in Turkey means that delaying the conference will allow more time “for proper attention, communication and participation to fully utilize the platform as intended”, according to the e-mailed statement.

The annual conference became a focus of controversy last year due to the participation of Turkish businessman Ekim Alptekin as a key note speaker.

Alptekin, who was made president of Turkish government-controlled TAIK in 2014, was a former employer of Mike Flynn, President Donald Trump’s first national security adviser. Alptekin paid Flynn $530,000 in 2016 to promote Turkish interests in the United States and help with the extradition of Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic preacher who Turkey blames for masterminding a failed military coup in July 2016.

The 2017 event also raised eyebrows when it was held at the Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C.

TAIK is now led by respected Turkish businessman Mehmet Ali Yalcindag.