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NZ Foreign Minister Heads to Turkey Over Erdogan Mosque Shooting Comments

NZ Foreign Minister Heads to Turkey Over Erdogan Mosque Shooting Comments

Wednesday, 20 March, 2019 - 05:45
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from his ruling AK Party (AKP) during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, Turkey, January 8, 2019. REUTERS/Umit Bektas
Asharq Al-Awsat
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Wednesday Foreign Minister Winston Peters will travel to Turkey to "confront" comments made by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on the massacre of at least 50 people in shootings on two mosques in Christchurch.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, was charged with murder on Saturday after a lone gunman opened fire at the mosques during Friday prayers.

Erdogan - who is seeking to drum up support for his AK Party in the March 31 local elections – said Turkey would make the suspected attacker pay if New Zealand did not.

The comments came at a campaign rally that included video footage of the shootings which the gunman had broadcast on Facebook.

Erdogan has also warned anti-Muslim Australians -- like the gunman -- would be "sent back in coffins" like their grandfathers at Gallipoli, which was the scene of a blood-drenched WWI battle.

More than 8,000 Australians died fighting Turkish forces around the seaside town, a landmark moment in Australian history.

Ardern said Peters would seek urgent clarification.

"Our deputy prime minister will be confronting those comments in Turkey," Ardern told reporters in Christchurch. "He is going there to set the record straight, face-to-face."

Peters had earlier condemned the airing of footage of the shooting, which he said could endanger New Zealander's aboard.

Despite Peters' intervention, an extract from Tarrant's alleged manifesto was flashed up on a screen at Erdogan's rally again on Tuesday, along with footage of the gunman entering one of the mosques and shooting as he approached the door.

Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he summoned Turkey's ambassador for a meeting, during which he demanded Erdogan's comments be removed from Turkey's state broadcaster.

"I will wait to see what the response is from the Turkish government before taking further action, but I can tell you that all options are on the table," Morrison told reporters in Canberra.

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