Erdogan to visit US next month

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to visit the US on May 16 to discuss the lingering Syrian conflict, which has now entered its third year, as well as other regional and global issues, diplomatic sources said.

Erdogan is expected to meet with US President Barack Obama, who previously declined to give a date to the Turkish side for a bilateral meeting.

Obama, who recently played a key role in mending ties between Turkey and Israel during his visit to the latter in late March, has a close relationship with Erdogan.

On March 22, the last day of Obama's official trip to Israel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered an apology to Turkey for a 2010 raid on an aid flotilla that resulted in the deaths of eight Turks and a Turkish-American, ending a crisis that ruptured ties between the two former allies.

The breakthrough came as a result of what appears to be a US bid to normalize relations. Official news of the apology came just after Obama said that Erdogan and Netanyahu spoke on the phone in late March.

Turkey's relations with the US have improved with strong cooperation between their leaders to address regional and global challenges.

The protracted Syrian civil war is expected to be the principal topic during Erdogan's visit to the White House. While Turkey expects the US to take a leadership role to end the Syrian conflict, the Obama administration is extremely cautious and prefers to use diplomatic efforts to address the ongoing crisis that has claimed more than 70,000 lives over the past two years in the war-torn country.

Ankara and Washington have differences over how to handle the Syrian conflict. Turkey expects more robust action from the international community and from the US in particular, amid a worsening humanitarian crisis.

The Obama administration has refused to give lethal aid to opposition fighters so far, citing its concerns that the arms could end up in the wrong hands.