Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
U.S. | By Eddie Scott

Secret Service investigates Turkish president's security detail's clash with protesters


Erdogan on Tuesday met Trump at the White House and the two leaders promised to strengthen strained ties between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies despite the Turkish leader's stern warning about Washington's arming of a Kurdish militia.

The State Department said Wednesday that "violence is never an appropriate response to free speech, and we support the rights of people everywhere to free expression and peaceful protest".

The Turkish Embassy in Washington released a statement Wednesday that made no mention of any role played by the presidential guards but said that a group of Turkish American citizens who had gathered to greet Erdogan "responded in self-defense" to a "provocative demonstration".

Nauert said in her statement that the United States respects Turkey's concerns about its approach, and will continue regular consultations on the issue. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called for the expulsion of Turkey's ambassador to the United States.

Turkey has called for the removal of the U.S. official coordinating the worldwide coalition purportedly fighting Daesh Takfiri terrorists in Iraq and Syria amid growing tensions between Ankara and other members of the Washington-led alliance.

The attack that sent nine to the hospital appeared to be unprovoked, Peter Newsham, the D.C. police chief, said. He suggested that lawsuits should be filed if the responsible bodyguards can be identified.

The background of the two men arrested wasn't immediately clear. Necmi was charged with aggravated assault, while Kheirabaoi was charged with assaulting a police officer. Erdogan's security staff moved in to break up an anti-government protest after police refused to make the demonstrators leave a park across the street.

"It happened really fast", he said, insisting that he was trying to defend himself and to protect a police officer, not attack one. Kheirabadi said he is a Kurd who passed through Turkey as a refugee and is now a U.S. citizen.

Turkey has stepped up its attacks against PKK positions in northern Iraq and YPG outposts in Syria over the past few weeks.

Washington and Ankara are at odds over USA plans to support the YPG, a Syrian Kurdish militia battling IS militants.

Tensions between Washington and Istanbul are running high after the Trump administration announced plans to arm Kurdish Syrian militants fighting the Islamic State group despite intense opposition from Turkey, which considers the Kurds as terrorists.

At their meeting Tuesday, Trump said the U.S. would re-establish its military and economic partnership with Turkey, committing to backing Turkey's defense against both Islamic State and the PKK. Cavusoglu said Thursday that the Trump administration "did not show any reaction" to the Turkish warning.

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