Turkish PM's account of Obama's Gülen response 'not accurate,' White House says
Tolga TANIŞ HÜRRİYET / WASHINGTON
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said US President Obama 'looked positively' to his recommendations regarding the Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who lives in a self-exile in Pennsylvania.Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's remarks regarding a phone conversation with President Barack Obama last month are "not accurate," a senior White House official told daily Hürriyet in a written statement on March 7.
In their first phone conversation in six months, Obama and Erdoğan talked for nearly one-and-a-half hours and exchanged views on strategic issues including developments in Syria and the recent launch of talks to reach a solution in Cyprus.
Although it was not included in the official statements, pro-government Turkish newspapers had claimed that Erdoğan also conveyed to Obama his concerns about the activities of Fethullah Gülen, an Islamic scholar who lives in self-exile in Pennsylvania and who the prime minister accuses of trying to bring down the government. Neither the Obama administration nor Ankara had confirmed or refuted this statement in February.
During a live broadcast on March 6, Erdoğan told journalists that he raised the topic during the recent phone conversation.
“I told Obama that the person who is responsible for the unrest in Turkey lives in your country, in Pennsylvania. I told him this clearly. I said, ‘I expect what’s necessary [to be done].’ You have to take the necessary stance if someone threatens my country’s security,” Erdoğan said.
He also added that the U.S. president "looked at it positively" and said "‘we got the message."
However, the White House has refuted this account. “The response attributed to President Obama with regards to Mr. Gülen is not accurate,” the statement said.
'Importance of rule of law'
It also added that Obama had emphasized the importance of "sound policies rooted in the rule of law" as well as “mutually respectful relations between our two countries” during the phone conversation.
It stressed that the U.S. administration remained committed to "working together with Turkey, particularly on a variety of regional issues of mutual interest."