Turkey Reprimands U.S. Over Violence During Erdogan's Visit

  • Erdogan’s security force to blame, U.S. State Department says
  • Washington clash strained relations after Trump-Erdogan talks

Turkey summoned the U.S. ambassador to protest what it called the “aggressive and unprofessional” actions of U.S. security personnel during President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Washington last week.

The two countries have offered starkly divergent views of the May 16 incident, with the U.S. blaming the conduct of Turkish bodyguards assigned to the visiting contingent. Eleven people were injured in the violent scuffle among policemen, protesters and the bodyguards of Turkish officials, police said at the time.

“It has been formally requested that the U.S. authorities conduct a full investigation of this diplomatic incident and provide the necessary explanation,” according to a statement posted to the website of Turkey’s Foreign Ministry.

The skirmish that put a new strain on the U.S.-Turkey relations took place outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington shortly after President Donald Trump met with Erdogan at the White House to discuss “how to further strengthen the deep and diverse relationship” between the two countries.

After video footage of the fight emerged, the State Department called in Turkey’s ambassador to the U.S. to lodge a protest. In a statement Monday confirming that Turkey had made a reciprocal move, department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said, “As we noted previously, the conduct of Turkish security personnel last week was deeply disturbing. The State Department has raised its concerns about those events at the highest levels.”

Read More: How Turkey’s Power Struggles Stem From Erdogan’s Grip

Twenty-nine U.S. lawmakers released a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urging him to seek the arrest and prosecution of members of Erdogan’s security detail who were allegedly involved.

"These actions are not only criminal, they are affronts to U.S. values,” the lawmakers, led by Democratic Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York, said in the letter. “Freedom of speech and freedom to protest may be prohibited in Turkey and offensive to the Turkish President, but they are bedrock U.S. principles that must be safeguarded.”

Washington police are investigating the incident, Mayor Muriel Bowser said last week.

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