Erdoğan, Obama discuss Turkish protests and free press
ANKARA / WASHINGTON
US President Barack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan are seen during their meeting at the White House in Washington, May 16. Washington has been very vocal regarding the Gezi Park protests. DHA photoPrime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had a “lengthy” phone conversation with U.S. President Barack Obama June 24 in the wake of the Gezi protests.
The White House said in a statement that Erdoğan described the situation in Turkey, where a sit-in to save Gezi Park prompted a police crackdown on May 31.
“The two leaders discussed the importance of nonviolence and of the rights to free expression and assembly and a free press,” the statement said. Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said the conversation was very positive.
Washington has been very vocal from the start of the protests. Both the U.S. State Department and the White House issued more than a dozen statements calling for restraint and respect for freedom of assembly.
The two leaders also discussed Syria and the need to provide more support to the rebels both sides support, after Washington signaled it was ready to provide military aid to fighters battling President Bashar al-Assad.
The White House statement said the leaders also discussed Syria “including the regime’s use of chemical weapons against its own people.” The conversation, which several officials described as lengthy, also focused on a shared Turkish-U.S. “commitment to pursuing a political solution [and] the need to provide additional support to the opposition.”