Top US diplomat calls for ‘immediate release’ of Turkish hostages on official visit to Ankara

Top US diplomat calls for ‘immediate release’ of Turkish hostages on official visit to Ankara

Top US diplomat calls for ‘immediate release’ of Turkish hostages on official visit to Ankara

US Ambassador Samantha Powers was in talks in Ankara as ISIL militants took 49 Turkish citizens hostage from Turkey's Mosul Consulate. AP Photo

A top U.S. diplomat, who is currently on an official visit to the Turkish capital Ankara, has joined calls demanding the “immediate release” of 49 Turkish citizens kidnapped from a consulate in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

“The United States strongly condemns recent attacks by the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL) in the city of Mosul, Iraq, which have broad security implications for the country. In particular, we condemn the kidnappings of Iraqi citizens and Turkish Consulate personnel, their family members and other Turkish citizens residing in Mosul, and join the Governments of Turkey and Iraq, as well as the international community, in calling for their immediate release,” by Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, said in a written statement released on June 12.

The statement was released ahead of her talks with Turkish President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, which were scheduled to take place later on June 12 in Ankara.

Turkey has pledged to retaliate if the hostages are harmed, saying ISIL kidnapped 49 of its citizens at the consulate and had taken them to another part of Mosul.

“ISIL’s appalling violence has led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people. It is a clear security threat to Iraq and a growing threat to the region. It seeks to turn back the clock on the progress Iraq has made, and it will cause unimaginable suffering. We urge Iraqis from all communities to work in solidarity against ISIL and any other militant groups that would seek to undermine Iraq’s future peace and stability,” Power also said.

Her statement came as U.S. Vice President Joe Biden called Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, offering assistance for the safe return of Turkish citizes taken hostage in Mosul.

“We reiterate our support for the Iraqi people and the Government of Iraq in their fight against terrorism. The United States will continue working with the people of Iraq, regional partners, and international organizations to ensure that the resources and strategies needed to combat ISIL and other emerging terrorist groups are in place so that Iraqis can achieve the peace, democracy and economic prosperity that is their due,” Powers added.