WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House on Tuesday welcomed comments from a Turkish leader who apologized for the use of excessive force by police to rein in anti-government protesters.
Turkey’s deputy prime minister, Bulent Arinc, issued an apology to people involved in a protest last week when a group demonstrating against plans to build at an Istanbul park was met with teargas and water cannons.
That protest then grew into the biggest and most violent anti-government demonstration in years as Turks complaining of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s authoritarian style took to the streets all over the country.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday he was concerned by reports of excessive police force.
White House spokesman Jay Carney noted Arinc’s comments.
“We hope that as we have made clear that the Turkish government will handle this in a way that respects the rights of free speech and assembly that are elemental to democracies. And we welcome the deputy prime minister’s comments apologizing for excessive force and we continue to welcome calls for these events to be investigated,” Carney told a briefing.
Arinc’s comments, however, contrasted with remarks by Erdogan, who said on Monday that protesters were “arm-in-arm with terrorism.”
Reporting by Steve Holland and Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Alistair Bell and Eric Beech