US condemns Erdogan 'anti-Semitic' remarks

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, seen speaking in April 2021, has provoked US outrage over comments described as 'anti-Semitic'
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, seen speaking in April 2021, has provoked US outrage over comments described as 'anti-Semitic' Adem ALTAN AFP/File
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Washington (AFP)

The United States on Tuesday sharply criticized Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for what it called "anti-Semitic" remarks amid his denunciations of Israel's strikes in Gaza.

"The United States strongly condemns President Erdogan's recent anti-Semitic comments regarding the Jewish people and finds them reprehensible," State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

"We urge President Erdogan and other Turkish leaders to refrain from incendiary remarks, which could incite further violence," he said.

Erdogan, whose political roots are in Islamism, has championed the Palestinian cause during his 18-year rule even though Turkey remains one of the few Muslim-majority nations with relations with Israel.

He has accused Israel of "terrorism" against the Palestinians and recently said, "It is in their nature."

"They are murderers, to the point that they kill children who are five or six years old. They only are satisfied by sucking their blood," he said.

Erdogan also lashed out at US President Joe Biden for his diplomatic support to Israel, saying the US leader has "bloody hands."

The latest episodes are likely to sour further the relationship between Turkey and the United States.

Biden took office vowing a harder line on Erdogan, whom he has described as an autocrat, and last month took the landmark step of recognizing the mass killings of Armenians by the waning Ottoman Empire in 1915-17 as genocide.

Biden and Erdogan nonetheless had agreed to hold a first meeting on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Brussels next month.