Washington sharpens tone towards Erdogan

SHAFAQNA – The US has warned Turkey against “public insinuations” of American involvement in a failed military coup, saying such claims are “utterly false and harmful” to their relations.

US Secretary of State John Kerry was speaking after Turkey’s labour minister suggested the US was behind the coup.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on the US to extradite US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Mr Erdogan has accused him of being behind the plot, which Mr Gulen denies.

Mr Gulen, speaking from his home in Pennsylvania, denied the claims and said “as someone who suffered under multiple military coups during the past five decades, it is especially insulting to be accused of having any link to such an attempt”.

The attempted coup began on Friday night when a faction of the military took over key bridges in Istanbul and attacked parliament buildings in Ankara.

The government says 161 civilians and police and 104 “plotters” were killed in ensuing clashes, and more than 1,440 injured.

‘Strategic partners’

Nearly 3,000 soldiers were detained and some 2,700 judges were sacked on Saturday as the government sought to re-assert its power.

Many within Turkey’s military and mid-level bureaucracy are said to support Fethullah Gulen, the inspiration behind the hugely-influential Hizmet movement.

Once allies, Mr Erdogan has long accused Mr Gulen and his supporters of plotting against him.

President Erdogan told the US – a Nato ally – that it had never refused a US extradition request for “terrorists”.

“If we are strategic partners,” he said in a televised speech on Saturday, “then you should bring about our request”.

Mr Kerry, speaking in Luxembourg, said the US fully anticipates “there will be questions raised about Mr Gulen”.

He said Turkey should “present us with any legitimate evidence that withstands scrutiny. And the United States will accept that and look at it and make judgements about it appropriately”.

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