Turkey: US Embassy trying to ‘damage’ relations by liking tweet about ill party leader

Turkey’s foreign ministry on Sunday summoned a top U.S. diplomat, seeking an explanation for the U.S. embassy’s account liking a tweet referencing the illness of a top ally of President Tayyip Erdogan, according to Reuters.

The tweet in question said the nation should be prepared for a Turkish political landscape without Devlet Bahceli, leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), who had suffered from health issues of unknown severity in recent weeks.

The foreign ministry said it summoned the U.S. Charge d’Affaires to the ministry on Sunday, seeking an “open and clear” explanation. The U.S. embassy has since tweeted two apologies.

“We apologize for the mistake that occurred on our Twitter account yesterday. We do not associate ourselves with Ergun Babahan nor do we endorse or agree with the content of his tweet,” the account tweeted Saturday, referencing the journalist behind the tweet, who the Turkish government has accused of links to dissident cleric Fetullah Gulen. “We reiterate our regret for this error.”

Omar Celik, a spokesman for Erdogan’s AK Party, said a further explanation was needed and that an apology was insufficient.

The incident “shows that some people employed in the Embassy are making a special effort to damage the relations between the two countries,” Celik said, according to the news service. “The United States Embassy needs to try to understand Turkey not through people linked with terrorist organizations but through people who can conduct proper analysis.”

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