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US concerned about Turkey's political crisis

AFP , Friday 10 Jan 2014
Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan speaks after the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for counter-terrorism cooperation at the Istana in Singapore January 9, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

The United States is watching with concern a deepening political crisis unfolding in its key ally Turkey, and has voiced its disquiet to Turkish leaders, a US official said Thursday.

"In our conversations with all stakeholders in Turkey, we continue to make clear that the United States supports the desire of the Turkish people for a legal system that meets the highest standards of fairness, timeliness and transparency," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.

Washington believes in a system "where no one is above the law and where allegations against public figures are investigated impartially," she added.

The turmoil erupted in December amid allegations of corruption against close allies of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

His government has insisted it will overcome the crisis, which Erdogan has described as a "dirty" plot to topple his 11-year-old administration.

He has struck back with a wave of police sackings, as well as recent moves in past days to curb the power of the independent judiciary and access to the Internet.

The political turmoil has rocked his Islamic-rooted government to its core just weeks before crucial local elections in March, and sparked concerns from the European Union.

"Turkey is and remains a key US ally," Psaki said. "We've expressed our concerns about some of the events that are happening on the ground directly, publicly and privately."

Turkey, a NATO member, has proved a vital US ally amid the chaos in Syria, and is currently hosting more than 600,000 Syrian refugees in camps spread out along the border.

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