Turkey criticizes U.S. readout of foreign ministers’ meeting

April 4, 2019

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey’s foreign minister on Thursday criticized a statement from the U.S. State Department about his meeting with his U.S. counterpart, saying references to Syria and detained U.S. consular staff did not reflect the truth.

Turkey and the United States have been at loggerheads over a host of issues, including differences over policy in Syria, the fate of detained U.S. consular staff in Turkey over terror links, and Turkey’s purchase of Russian missile defense systems.

Speaking after a strongly worded statement by his ministry, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said he was “really surprised” by the U.S. readout of his meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, which he said had been prepared ahead of their meeting.

“Whether you look at the tone of the statement or the sentences it claimed Pompeo told us, we see it doesn’t reflect the truth,” Cavusoglu told reporters in the United States.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry earlier slammed the U.S. statement, saying it failed to reflect the content of the meeting and contained issues that were not discussed.

“Our alliance naturally requires that such statements are prepared with greater care, while avoiding to include matters that were not raised during meetings,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said.

Earlier, the U.S. State Department’s deputy spokesman, Robert Palladino, said Pompeo had warned Cavusoglu about the “potentially devastating consequences of Turkish military action” in Syria and called for the resolution to the cases of the “unjustly detained U.S. citizens” in Turkey.

However, Cavusoglu appeared to play down the dispute over the conflicting statements. “For some reason, our friends leave us foreign ministers in tough positions by making such statements,” he said.

Asked about the dispute over the statement, Pompeo said he stood by the U.S. State Department’s readout of his meeting with Cavusoglu.

“I saw the comments by my Turkish counterpart. I reread the readout of our meeting – spot on. Stand by every word of it,” Pompeo said during a news conference following a meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization foreign ministers in Washington.

(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; editing by Leslie Adler and Susan Thomas)

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