ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey summoned the American ambassador on Monday to protest what it called “aggressive and unprofessional actions” by American security personnel against Turkish bodyguards during a violent incident last week in Washington. The U.S. ambassador told Turkey’s government its guards violated U.S. laws, a senior U.S. official said.
Turkey’s action appeared to represent retaliation for the forceful U.S. criticism of the Turkish guards’ behavior in the American capital, where they accompanied President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his visit. The U.S. summoned Turkey’s U.S. ambassador last week after the Turkish security officers were seen hitting and kicking protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence; one video shared on social media even showed Erdogan watching the melee.
Turkey didn’t specify the actions by U.S. security officials it deemed inappropriate. Video from the scene had showed U.S. police struggling to protect protesters, and two Turkish bodyguards were briefly detained after the incident. They were then set free and returned to Turkey.
In the meeting with Turkey’s Foreign Ministry in Ankara, U.S. Ambassador John Bass said the security personnel’s behavior contradicted U.S. laws and protected speech and assembly rights, according to a senior U.S. State Department official.
Bass and the Turkish officials disagreed about what prompted the outbreak of violence, said the official, who demanded anonymity to discuss private diplomatic conversations. The official said Bass told the Turks the U.S. was looking into what happened and why — an apparent nod to Turkey’s demand for “a full investigation of this diplomatic incident.”
Pressure has been mounting on the Trump administration not to let the violence on U.S. soil go unpunished. Last week’s incident wasn’t the first such case during an Erdogan visit. Last year, a similar scuffle erupted outside a nuclear security summit that Erdogan attended in Washington.
A pair of senators who oversee the U.S. foreign aid budget added to the pressure with a letter to Turkey’s ambassador warning there could be fiscal repercussions if Ankara fails to punish the bodyguards responsible. Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Patrick Leahy D-Vt., said in a letter released Monday that there could be “potential implications for assistance to Turkey” if the unseemly incident isn’t taken seriously by Ankara.
And a group of nearly 30 Democratic lawmakers led by Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York wrote Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Monday demanding that the Turkish guards be “arrested, prosecuted and jailed.” The prospect of arrest is unlikely — many of them have already returned to Turkey, immunity for those posted in the U.S. is an issue, and the countries are already in an unrelated spat over extradition.
The Democrats also faulted Tillerson for what they suggested was his failure to speak out loudly against the Turkish actions.
“This kind of behavior by a foreign security detail is reprehensible and cannot be tolerated,” they wrote.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert confirmed that Bass had been summoned to discuss the situation with the Turks and called the conduct of the Turkish guards “deeply disturbing.”
“The State Department has raised its concerns about those events at the highest levels,” Nauert said.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that a formal, written protest was delivered to Bass, describing the treatment of its two security officers as “contrary to diplomatic rules and practices.” Although earlier reports suggested the detained officers had been Erdogan’s guards, the statement said they were part of Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s security detail. Cavusoglu traveled with Erdogan.
The fracas has added to already strained U.S.-Turkish ties. The NATO allies have publicly clashed over a U.S. decision to arm Syrian Kurdish rebels fighting the Islamic State group in Syria. Turkey considers the fighters to be an extension the Kurdish insurgency in Turkey known as the PKK, and claims without evidence that protesters who showed up during Erdogan’s visit to Washington last week were themselves associated with the PKK.
Shortly after news broke that he had been summoned, Bass was at the airport in Ankara to greet U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley as she arrived on a previously scheduled trip. Bass joined the visiting diplomat as her motorcade ferried Haley to an Ankara hotel. It wasn’t clear if Haley would broach the subject in any meetings with Turkish officials.
Associated Press writer Richard Lardner in Washington contributed to this report.
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The Latest on relations between the U.S. and Turkey: (all times local):
Turkey is protesting what it calls “aggressive and unprofessional actions” by American security personnel against Turkish bodyguards during a violent incident last week in Washington.
Officials haven’t specified the actions by U.S. security officials it deems inappropriate.
A senior U.S. official says Turkey on Monday summoned the American ambassador, John Bass, to air its grievances. The official says Bass has told Turkey’s government that its guards violated U.S. laws.
The guards accompanied Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his visit to Washington. They were seen hitting and kicking protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence, and a video shows Erdogan watching the melee.
U.S. and Turkish officials disagree about what prompted the violence. Pressure is mounting on the Trump administration not to let the incident on U.S. soil go unpunished.
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — For the first time, all parties to Syria’s conflict — including the divided opposition — have agreed to take part in expert talks to help lay the foundation for a new constitution, the U.N. special envoy for the country said Monday.
Staffan de Mistura told the Security Council in a video briefing from Geneva he is also pleased that all parties were receptive to a seventh round of political talks, which he intends to hold sometime in June.
He said there was additional “good news” in reports of “a significant drop in violence, including in aerial bombardment, in most areas” since a high-level meeting this month in Astana, Kazakhstan, of the three guarantors of the December cease-fire — Russia, Turkey and Iran.
But de Mistura also cited “not-so-good news” in reports of continuing hostilities and bombings involving the government and some opposition groups in areas, including Hama, Homs and Damascus, which appear to be outside the de-escalation zones established by the three guarantors.
“Our goal is not just de-escalation but the realization of the nationwide cease-fire,” de Mistura said, “and thus we have a common interest in ensuring that no party takes advantage of any ambiguities to make territorial gains or divert resources to other battlefronts.”
During the latest political talks last week, the U.N. envoy told the council he saw “an opportunity and a need” to focus on constitutional and legal issues because no party to the conflict “will accept a constitutional, legal or institutional vacuum in Syria before, during or after any negotiated transitional political process.”
De Mistura stressed that the U.N. isn’t seeking to draft a new constitution, which must remain the right of the Syrian people.
“We are laying foundations for the time when the Syrians can do that,” he said.
De Mistura said he informed the parties during separate meetings with them that he intended to establish “a technical consultative process” to examine these issues.
With their input, he said, the process is already “up and running.”
De Mistura said U.N. experts held separate technical meetings last Thursday and Friday with experts from the government, the official opposition delegation to the Geneva political talks, and rival opposition delegations from Moscow and Cairo.
The U.N. envoy said “constructive discussions” were also held on how experts from the Moscow and Cairo delegations might join expert meetings of the official opposition delegation.
“We should encourage them to make this a reality during the next round,” de Misutra said.
“This would send an important new signal of opposition unity,” he said.
While this isn’t an immediate prospect, de Mistura said, “we hope this would take us closer to the possibility for direct negotiations between government and opposition.”
WASHINGTON (AP) — The senators who oversee the U.S. foreign aid budget have warned the Turkish government there could be fiscal repercussions if Ankara fails to punish the bodyguards responsible for a violent incident in Washington.
In a letter to the Turkish ambassador to the United States, Sens. Lindsey Graham and Patrick Leahy say there could be “potential implications for assistance to Turkey” if the unseemly incident isn’t taken seriously by Ankara. Their letter to Ambassador Serdar Kilic is dated May 18 but wasn’t released until Monday.
Video shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s security detail violently breaking up a peaceful protest last week outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington.
Graham, a South Carolina Republican, and Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, are the chairman and ranking member of the Senate’s foreign operations subcommittee.
NEW YORK (AP) — Baseball games will soon arrive on virtual-reality headsets.
Video in the new At Bat VR app won’t be in VR. Rather, the app places you behind home plate and shows you graphical depictions of each pitch, including a colored streak (red for strikes and green for balls) tracing the ball’s trajectory. The data come from sensors Major League Baseball already has installed in all of its stadiums.
The app also lets you hover over icons to see the speed and type of each pitch, as well as which parts of a strike zone is strong or weak for a particular batter. Traditional TV coverage of the games will appear on a virtual screen in front of you, alongside play-by-play information and individual player stats.
It’s more information that casual baseball fans will want, but hard-core fans might get a kick from having this perspective supplement what they see with regular TV cameras. Baseball’s regular At Bat app does have some of this information, but not in 3-D and not while watching video.
At Bat VR will also have a section for 360-degree video packages, but not of actual games.
At Bat VR is included with Major League Baseball’s existing streaming packages. For live video, that starts at about $87 for the season. At Bat VR is also subject to the usual blackouts for local teams; in such cases, the graphical depictions will still be available, but not the live video within the headset. (Audio is available with the cheaper At Bat Premium subscription for $20; non-paying users get just the graphics and stats.)
The VR app comes out June 1 and works with Android phones and headsets compatible with Google’s Daydream VR system. There’s no version for iPhones.
NEW YORK (AP) — A teen Instagram dancing sensation has gone from online to on-air after Katy Perry invited him to show off his moves during her “Saturday Night Live” performance this weekend.
Fifteen-year-old Russell Horning took the “SNL” stage during Perry’s performance of her new single “Swish Swish.” He wore his trademark backpack and did his signature move of quickly swaying his hands around his waist.
The “backpack kid” became a hit on Twitter.
The Lawrenceville, Georgia, teen tells USA Today the collaboration came about after Perry noticed him on Instagram.
But it looks like Horning wasn’t too impressed with Perry’s dancing. His caption on a video of her trying to imitate his moves backstage at “SNL” read: “When your mom tries to look cool.”