Turkey summons US diplomat over Twitter ‘like’

US embassy causes uproar in Turkey after 'liking' controversial tweet

US embassy causes uproar in Turkey after 'liking' controversial tweet

Turkey on Sunday summoned the USA charge d'affaires after the embassy's Twitter account "liked" a tweet about a nationalist politician who was recently in hospital, the Turkish foreign ministry said.

Authorities harshly criticized the embassy after its official Twitter account appeared to express approval of a message by Ergun Babahan, who fled the country after he was accused of being a follower of Fethullah Gulen, a Pennsylvania-based cleric blamed by Turkey for masterminding a failed coup in 2016.

The tweet liked by the embassy on Saturday said preparations must be made for a political reality without Devlet Bahceli, leader of the right-wing Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Ankara and Washington have faced a number of spats in recent years over a range of issues, including Turkey's purchase of Russian S-400 missile defence systems, differences in policy in Syria and the detention of local United States consulate employees and citizens in Turkey.

The U.S. ambassador, David Satterfield, arrived in Turkey earlier this year after a period of almost two years without an American ambassador to Ankara following John Bass' departure in 2017.

Bahceli is the leader of Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which is an ally of President Tayyip Erdogan's AK Party.

After the incident, Turkish Foreign Ministry has summoned Charge d'Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara to request for explanation.

On Saturday, the US Embassy liked a tweet that said Turkey should be ready for politics without Bahceli, who has had health issues in recent weeks. We do not associate ourselves with Ergun Babahan nor do we endorse or agree with the content of his tweet.

The embassy issued a second apology after Hovenier was called to the Turkish Foreign Ministry. Turkish and American officials in August agreed a deal to set up a buffer zone on Turkey's border, and Turkey has been pushing for a "safe zone" but has accused the USA of stalling over its establishment. "We regret the mistake and apologise for any confusion", it said.

The incident occurred at a time when ties between Turkey and the USA are strained over Syria policies. Disagreements remain on the size of the zone.

Erdogan also told Trump that the creation of the safe zone was key to eliminating the threat posed to Turkey by the Kurdish fighters and would allow for the return of Syrian refugees, the statement said.

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