Turkey has summoned the US ambassador to protest the detention of two security officers during the Turkish president's Washington visit last week. The officers were briefly detained after clashing with protesters.
Turkey on Monday protested against what it called "aggressive and unprofessional actions" by American security personnel during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit to Washington and meeting with his US counterpart, Donald Trump, last week.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry said it had summoned the US Ambassador to Ankara, John Bass, to be given a "written and verbal protest" over the brief detention of two official security personnel. The two men were caught up in a brawl outside the Turkish ambassador's residence in the US capital.
Erdogan's visit to Washington last week was marred by brutal clashes between the bodyguards and a group of pro-Kurdish and Armenian activists. Video footage appeared to show official Turkish security personnel hitting and kicking demonstrators. Several people were injured and hospitalized, including a Washington police officer.
Monday's statement from the foreign ministry said the two detained men were bodyguards for Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. Erdogan's bodyguards were also reported to have been involved in the scuffle.
All sides dish out blame
The melee and subsequent violent response from bodyguards were widely condemned by US lawmakers. US Senator John McCain, a leading foreign policy voice in Congress, on Thursday called for the expulsion of Turkey's US envoy. Meanwhile, on Monday it was revealed that the two US Senators overseeing the US foreign aid budget, Lindsey Graham and Patrick Leahy, had last week warned Turkey's US envoy there could be "potential implications for assistance to Turkey" if the incident were not taken seriously by Ankara.
However, The Turkish Foreign Ministry sought to shift blame back on the US, saying it expected US authorities to conduct "a full investigation of this diplomatic incident" that saw its two security officials treated "contrary to diplomatic rules and practices." It also hit out at the "the inability of US authorities to take sufficient precautions at every stage" of Erdogan's visit.
The New York Times newspaper reported that the two guards were detained for attacking American Diplomatic Security but were released shortly afterwards because of their immunity.
The brawl has added to the US and Turkey's already strained ties. The two NATO allies are at odds over the US' decision to arm Syrian Kurds fighting the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) jihadist group. Ankara views the pro-Kurdish militant cells as a terrorist group, despite them leading the fight against IS in parts of Syria.
dm/se (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)