Washington says high tension over graft probe will have 'consequences'

Washington says high tension over graft probe will have 'consequences'

Washington says high tension over graft probe will have consequences

US Ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardone issued a written statement to deny some media reports’ claims alleging him to be involved in graft probe. Cihan photo

The United States does not want to increase the tension over the latest statements by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s implication that Washington’s ambassador could be expelled over provocative actions in the ongoing graft probe.

“We don’t want to increase the tension. It will have consequences,” a high ranking State Department official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, stressing that bilateral ties would be harmed. The official gave no further details on how the relations would be affected.

Only five days after the huge graft probe began, some pro-government media hit almost the same headline on Dec. 21 and claimed that Envoy Francis Ricciardone told a group of EU ambassadors that “You will watch the fall of an empire” on Dec. 17, the very first day of the police’s corruption operation. 

Although the embassy categorically denied the reports, Erdoğan strongly targeted the ambassador at a rally in Samsun. 

“In recent days, interestingly, some ambassadors have been engaging in provocative actions. I am calling out to them from Samsun: Do your own job,” he said. “We do not have to keep you in our country.”

The U.S. official said possible anti-American sentiment in Turkey was one of the biggest concerns of the Barack Obama administration, adding that they would monitor the situation in the near future.