Turkey summons US diplomat over embassy ‘like’ on Twitter: report

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The US Embassy in Ankara / AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN

The Turkish foreign ministry says it has summoned the US chargé d’affaires after the embassy’s Twitter account “liked” a tweet about a nationalist politician who was recently in the hospital, The Guardian reported.

“Today the US chargé d’affaires was summoned to the ministry to give an open and clear explanation of the social media posting,” the ministry said on Sunday.

It added that the US ambassador was not in Ankara.

The embassy’s official Twitter account liked a tweet on Saturday in which an individual said Turkey should be ready for a political period without Devlet Bahçeli.

Bahçeli leads the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the junior partner of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) since their formal alliance in 2018. The MHP also backed the AKP in a 2017 referendum on changing the Turkish constitution to transform the country’s system into an executive presidency.

Last month Bahçeli, 71, was taken to a hospital after suffering from nausea but was released shortly afterwards. Despite assurances, there have been concerns recently over his health.

The US ambassador, David Satterfield, arrived in Turkey earlier this year after a period of nearly two years without an American ambassador to Ankara after John Bass’s departure in 2017.

The US Embassy apologized in a tweet on Saturday, saying the posting had been “liked by accident.”

Relations between Turkey and the US have been strained in recent years over multiple issues including US support for a Syrian Kurdish militia viewed by Ankara as terrorists.

On Saturday Erdoğan renewed his threat to launch an air and ground operation against the Kurdish militia in northeastern Syria despite US opposition.

Turkish and US 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 US of stalling over its establishment.

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