Kerry Calls Turkish PM's Zionism Comments 'Objectionable'

PM Referred to Zionism as a 'Crime Against Humanity'

By Reuters

Published March 01, 2013.
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“No single statement carries a price higher than the blood of a person … If Israel wants to hear positive statements from Turkey it needs to reconsider its attitude both towards us and towards the West Bank,” he told the news conference.

Turkey has demanded a formal apology for the 2010 incident, compensation for victims and their families and for the Gaza blockade to be lifted. Israel has voiced “regret” and has offered to pay into what it called a “humanitarian fund” through which casualties and relatives could be compensated.

SUPPORT FOR SYRIAN OPPOSITION

Erdogan appeared displeased when Kerry arrived late for their evening talks, remarking there was not much time left, according to a U.S. media pool reporter who attended the picture-taking session at the start of the meeting.

Kerry, in turn, apologised, saying that he had a good meeting with Davutoglu, according to the pool reporter.

Erdogan, speaking through an interpreter, replied that they “must have spoken about everything so there is nothing left for us to talk about.” In a joking tone of voice, Kerry said: “We need you to sign off on everything.”

Turkey’s relations with the United States have always been prickly. And Erdogan’s populist rhetoric, sometimes at apparent odds with U.S. interests, is aimed partly at a domestic audience wary of Washington’s influence.

Ahead of Kerry’s talks with Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul, officials said Syria would top the agenda, building on this week’s discussions in Rome between 11 mostly European and Arab nations within the “Friends of Syria” group.

After the Rome meeting, Kerry said on Thursday the United States would for the first time give non-lethal aid to the rebels and more than double support to the civilian opposition, although Western powers stopped short of pledging arms.

Turkey has been one of Assad’s fiercest critics, hosting a NATO Patriot missile defence system, including two U.S. batteries, to protect against a spillover of violence and leading calls for international intervention.

It has spent more than $600 million sheltering refugees from the conflict that began almost two years ago, housing some 180,000 in camps near the border and tens of thousands more who are staying with relatives or in private accommodation. (Additional reporting by Gulsen Solaker; Writing by Nick Tattersall and Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Michael Roddy)


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