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Turkish ties hit rough patch after rough Erdogan visit

19 May 2017, 06:26 | Darin Griffith

Turkish ties hit rough patch after rough Erdogan visit

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov center Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides left and Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland talk together prior to a session of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers at the Filoxeni

The visit was also marred by a violent coda - an attack on protesters outside the Turkish ambassador's residence in Washington on Tuesday that USA officials said was carried out by Erdogan's presidential guards.

The protest turned violent, and nine people were injured. In April 2016 the president's bodyguards beat protesters outside the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C. while Erdogan gave a speech inside, prompting the think tank to strongly condemn the behavior. It said they chanted anti-Erdogan slogans, and that Erdogan's team moved in to disperse them because "police did not heed to Turkish demands to intervene". But due to their diplomatic immunity, they were released on the scene. So it might remain for the State Department to toss out anyone connected to the incident - at least to demonstrate that here no one is above the law.

The White House additionally noted that Trump "raised the incarceration of Pastor Andrew Brunson and asked that the Turkish Government expeditiously return him to the United States".

"President Jean-Claude Juncker, together with (EU Council) President Donald Tusk, meets Mr Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey, in Brussels", Juncker's office said Friday in a calendar entry for May 25.

Two men were also arrested by D.C.'s Metropolitan Police Department on the scene - Jalal Kheirabaoi of Fairfax, VA, and Ayten Necmi of Woodside, NY, according to police reports. They could see the protestors and their placards- and made a decision to "disperse them".

Members of Congress from both parties have expressed their outrage over the incident.

Republican Senator John McCain told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Thursday that the USA should throw "the ambassador the hell out of the United States".

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Lawmakers have decried what they saw as Erdogan's attitude toward dissent making its way from the Mediterranean to America. On Wednesday (US time), Turkey's official Anadolu news agency labeled the protesters Kurdish "supporters of terror".

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VOA's Turkish Service said the protesters were supporters of Selahattin Demirtas, a jailed pro-Kurdish lawmaker.

"Today's experience has shown us that as Kurds we are not even safe from Turkey's racism and terrorism here in the United States", she wrote.

I agree with @SenJohnMcCain.Unacceptable. We stand for the right of free and peaceful expression, dignity, human rights and protection of citizens in the USA and other countries.

A State Department official declined to comment on the idea of expelling the ambassador.

"Your staff's blatant violation of these rights on American soil is an affront to those freedoms, and reflects poorly on your government", the pair added.

The remarks from Graham and McCain come after Rep. Ed Royce of California, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called on the Trump administration to investigate whether criminal charges are warranted against any of the bodyguards.

Erdogan is expected to travel to Washington D.C.to meet with the president next week - their first face-to-face meeting since Trump took office - and one in which divisions over USA support of the Syrian Kurdish militia are likely to be a point of contention.



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