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Turkey summons US envoy over 'security lapses' in Erdogan visit

AFP , Monday 22 May 2017

Turkey summoned the US ambassador on Monday to protest "aggressive behaviour" by American security personnel and "security lapses" during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit to Washington last week.

The key visit was marred by bloody clashes that took place outside the Turkish ambassador's residence after Erdogan met American counterpart Donald Trump.

US officials and police have blamed Erdogan's bodyguards for the incident, accusing them of attacking a small group of pro-Kurdish protesters gathered outside the building and the incident ignited a storm of controversy.

Witnesses at the scene last week confirmed this account to AFP, and on Monday the US State Department did not back down in the face of Turkey's complaint.

"We can confirm the Turkish foreign ministry convoked our ambassador to Turkey to discuss the violent incidents involving protestors and Turkish security personnel on May 16," spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

"As we noted previously, the conduct of Turkish security personnel last week was deeply disturbing. The State Department has raised its concerns about those events at the highest levels," she added.

Turkey blamed the violence on supporters of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) who picked on pro-Erdogan US-based Turks.

The Turkish ministry summoned John Bass, American ambassador in Ankara, to deliver a "written and verbal protest" over "the aggressive and unprofessional actions taken."

The ministry accused US security personnel of acting "contrary to diplomatic rules and practices... towards the close protection team" of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in front of the Turkish embassy chancery in Washington.

"It has been formally requested that the US authorities conduct a full investigation of this diplomatic incident and provide the necessary explanation," it added.

The ministry said it told Bass there were "lapses of security" during Erdogan's stay.

It hit out at "the inability of US authorities to take sufficient precautions at every stage of the official programme."

However, the ministry said it emphasised to Bass that this would not overshadow an otherwise "successful and important visit".

US Senator John McCain said that the Turkish ambassador should be thrown "the hell out of the United States of America" after the fighting.

"This is Erdogan's security detail. Somebody told them to go out there and beat up on these peaceful demonstrators," McCain said Thursday.

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