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DIPLOMACY > Erdoğan confesses communication strained with Obama

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Obama and Erdoğan once enjoyed a very close relationship.

Obama and Erdoğan once enjoyed a very close relationship.

A cold wind blowing between Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and U.S. President Barack Obama has been hindering direct communication between the two leaders for some time, Erdoğan has said.

“In the past, I was calling him [Obama] directly. But because I can’t get the expected results on Syria, our foreign ministers are now talking to each other. And I have talked to [Vice President Joe] Biden. He calls me; I call him. I expect justice in this process. I couldn’t imagine such a thing from those who are not endeavoring for justice,” Erdoğan said in a televised interview late July 21.  

Obama and Erdoğan held frequent phone conversations over foreign policy issues, especially during the early days of the Arab Spring. However, they held their last conversation on Feb. 20 this year, after which the White House issued a denial of Erdoğan's translation of the conversation's content.

Erdoğan has recently increased his tone against U.S. policies concerning Egypt, Syria and the Israel-Palestine dispute, saying, “I can’t understand America’s current approaches [on these issues].”

Upon a question of whether he is at odds with Obama, Erdoğan said “To be frank, unfortunately, we talk about Iraq with Biden. I ask our president [Abdullah Gül] to call Mr. Obama and discuss the issue with him directly.”

Another issue between Turkey and the U.S. is the former’s demand from its ally to deport Fethullah Gülen, a religious leader who has been in self-exile in the U.S. since 1999. The government believes Gülen leads an illegal organization in Turkey and should face prosecution on very serious charges.

“I expect America to take a position. I said it to Mr. Obama and he replied ‘I got it,’” he said, adding that an Interpol Red Notice could be issued for Gülen as a result of the judicial process in Turkey.

"He [Gülen] would not be able to stay in his location after we issue the red notice. We will continue our determination on this issue," the prime minister said.

July/22/2014

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