U.N.'s Ban says Turkish PM's Zionism comment "hurtful"

Reuters , Friday 1 Mar 2013

UN chief Ban Ki-moon slams the anti-Zionist statements issued by Turkish PM Tayyip Erdogan against Israel

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during an interview with Reuters in his residence in Ankara November 9, 2010 (Photo: Reuters)

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Friday Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's description of Zionism as a crime against humanity was "hurtful and divisive", adding to criticism of comments that risk deepening Turkey's rift with Israel.

Ban's spokesman said the secretary-general had heard Erdogan's speech at a U.N. meeting in Vienna on Wednesday through an interpreter.

"The secretary-general believes is it is unfortunate that such hurtful and divisive comments were uttered at a meeting being held under the theme of responsible leadership," the spokesman said in a statement.

Erdogan had told the U.N. Alliance of Civilizations meeting in Vienna: "Just as with Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism, it has become necessary to view Islamophobia as a crime against humanity."

Ties between Israel and mostly Muslim Turkey have been frosty since 2010, when nine Turks were killed by Israeli commandos who stormed their ship carrying aid to Palestinians in Gaza, under a naval blockade.

Israel's prime minister accused his Turkish counterpart on Thursday of making a "dark and false" statement, while the White House also condemned the remarks.

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