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Turkey disturbed by anti-Islamic messages in US.

ySTANBUL (CyHAN)- Turkish Foreign Minister MevlE-t EcavuE-oy-lu has said that Turkey is disturbed by the anti-Islamic remarks that have come to the fore in the US presidential race, particularly Republican Party candidate Donald Trump's call to ban Muslims from entering the country.

In a wide-ranging policy speech to the annual meeting of Turkish ambassadors in Ankara on Monday, EcavuE-oy-lu said, "It's election year in the US, and we're disturbed by the anti-Islamic remarks by some of the candidates." Trump last month advocated banning all Muslims from entering the US. He repeated the same argument in his first TV ad released last week. He also claimed in November of last year that he saw thousands of Muslims in New Jersey cheering the Sept. 11 attacks on New York's World Trade Center.

On Saturday, a Muslim advocacy group called on Trump to apologize after a Muslim woman engaged in a silent protest a day earlier at a rally in South Carolina was removed by security personnel and booed by the crowd.

NATO allies Turkey and the United States are part of a Washington-led coalition to fight the terrorist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). However, differences of opinion over which opposition groups in Syria should be backed have recently caused tensions, with Ankara summoning the US ambassador last October over US support for Kurdish groups.

In his address to Turkish ambassadors on Monday, EcavuE-oy-lu also defended Turkey's deployment of troops to a camp in Bashiqa in northern Iraq, a move that has caused a diplomatic row with Baghdad. Emphasizing that Ankara respects Iraq's territorial integrity, EcavuE-oy-lu said the deployment was made after security deteriorated at Bashiqa, where a group of Turkish soldiers have been training an Iraqi militia to fight against ISIL. Although Turkish government officials have claimed previously that the troop deployment at the end of last year was made with the consent of the central government in Baghdad, the Iraqi government has denied this and demanded that Turkey withdraw all of its troops from Iraqi territory.

The Turkish foreign minister also said that for Turkey, the People's Protection Units (YPG) -- the armed wing of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is seen by the US-led coalition as one of the leading ground forces in the fight against ISIL in Syria -- was no different to the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) or ISIL. Turkey has long maintained that the PYD is a terrorist organization due to its links with the PKK. However, the US says that the PYD is not considered a terrorist group under US law. The PKK is classified as a terrorist group by Turkey, the US and the EU.

EcavuE-oy-lu said Turkey views ISIL as a threat to Turkey, the region and all humanity. "For us, there are no good terrorists and no bad terrorists. For us, the PKK, the [Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front] DHKP/C and al-Nusrah are the same as the PYD, the YPG and ISIL," EcavuE-oy-lu said, stressing that Turkey is taking all measures to prevent foreign fighters from crossing into Syria to join terrorist groups.

The Sunnis in Iraq do not trust the Iraqi security forces and even view them as an invading force, partly due to the previous Iraqi government's sectarian policies favoring Shiites, EcavuE-oy-lu claimed, going on to say that the foreign military aid given to Iraq goes to Shiite militias under the control of "another country" -- a possible reference to Iran.

EcavuE-oy-lu also mentioned the recent rift between Saudi Arabia and Iran, following the execution of a prominent Shiite cleric by Saudi Arabia that provoked protests by Shiites around the world. The foreign minister said Turkey was ready to make "every effort" to help resolve the tension between the two countries. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoy-lu has offered to play a mediator role if needed.

He also said that as yet, there was still no agreement about the possibility of a normalization of ties with Israel. Israel's once-strong ties with Turkey soured in 2010 when Israeli commandos killed eight Turkish activists and one Turkish-American when storming the Mavi Marmara, a ship in a convoy seeking to break the Israeli naval blockade of the Palestinian territory of Gaza. Turkey had demanded Israel apologize for the assault, pay compensation to the families of the victims and lift the blockade on Gaza. For Israel, limiting Hamas activity in Turkey is a key concern.

An Israeli official said last month that Israel and Turkey had reached a preliminary agreement to normalize relations, according to a report by Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

In his speech, EcavuE-oy-lu also repeated Turkey's position on Syria, saying that the international community should accept that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has no place in the future of the country. Turkey has long been pushing for the removal of Assad regime. Criticizing the international community for only acting on the Syrian refugee issue after refugees arrived on their borders, EcavuE-oy-lu said Turkey had opened its arms to everyone who had fled from the brutality in Syria.

[Cihan/Today's Zaman] CyHAN

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Publication:Cihan News Agency (CNA)
Geographic Code:7SYRI
Date:Jan 11, 2016
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