FM Davutoğlu defends decision to keep Turkish diplomats in Mosul

FM Davutoğlu defends decision to keep Turkish diplomats in Mosul

Razi Canikligil HÜRRİYET / NEW YORK
FM Davutoğlu defends decision to keep Turkish diplomats in Mosul

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has defended Ankara's decision to keep its consulate in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul open despite the approach of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants.

"The risk of leaving was higher than the risk of staying in. Clashes were happening street by street. Taking such a sensitive convoy [the consulate staff and their families] out was a risk," Davutoğlu told Turkish journalists at New York John F. Kennedy Airport before leaving for Turkey.

Another reason for the decision to continue the consulate's activity was "to give confidence to the people of Mosul," he added.

Earlier, Davutoğlu had decided to cut his U.S. trip short due to the events in Iraq, and held phone conversations with officials from the U.S. and the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) for the release of the consulate staff.

"The United States has a special responsibility for the security of Iraq. But primarily, the Iraqi state is responsible for the security of our diplomatic mission," he said.

Stressing that it was "not the first time that Turkey has faced such a crisis," the Turkish foreign minister said "nobody should have any doubts" that the hostages would be brought back safely. "We brought our citizens safe and sound in similar crises before. We are informed about their health and safety to a certain extent. The important thing now is bring them home," he said.

"All parties around the world should know that if something bad happens to our citizens, the perpetrators will be responded to strongly. Nobody should test Turkey," Davutoğlu added.

The Foreign Ministry also issued a statement saying that at the time of the raid, 49 members of the consulate, including the consul general, and an unknown number of their family members were in the compound. Separately, 31 Turkish truck drivers are being kept by the same group at a power plant in Mosul, according to the statement.