Vladimir Putin meets Erdogan as Turkey wades into Jerusalem row | World | News


The Russian President visited Ankara today with a spokesman for his Turkish counterpart saying the pair would discuss the situation in Jerusalem after Donald Trump recognised the city as the capital of Israel. 

Mr Trump’s announcement has triggered a war of words between Mr Erdogan and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, straining ties between the two US allies which were restored only last year after a six-year breach that followed the Israeli storming of a Turkish aid ship.

On Sunday, Mr Erdogan called Israel a “terror state”. Mr Netanyahu responded by saying he would accept no moral lectures from  Mr Erdogan who he accused of bombing Kurdish villages, jailing opponents and supporting terrorists.

And today Mr Erdogan took aim directly at Washington over Mr Trump’s move: “The ones who made Jerusalem a dungeon for Muslims and members of other religions will never be able to clean the blood from their hands,” he said in a speech in Ankara. 

“With their decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the United States has become a partner in this bloodshed.”

Mr Trump’s announcement triggered days of protests across the Muslim world and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem in which scores of Palestinians were wounded and several killed.

Commenting on the crisis, Mr Putin said any steps to pre-empt an agreement between Israel and Palestine are counter productive. 

He said such steps are destabilising and could provoke conflict. 

Hours before the visit to Turkey, Mr Putin ordered “a significant part” of Moscow’s military contingent there to start withdrawing on Monday, declaring their work largely done.

Mr Putin, who polls show will be re-elected comfortably in March, made the announcement during a surprise visit to Russia’s Hmeymim air base in Syria – his first since Russia intervened in the conflict. He held talks with President Bashar al-Assad and addressed Russian forces.

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