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Turkey protests against alleged Iranian support for Islamists

ANKARA, May 11 (AFP) - Iran's ambassador to Turkey was summoned to the foreign ministry here Tuesday in a row over alleged Iranian support for a Turkish deputy who caused a scandal by wearing a traditional Moslem headscarf in parliament.

In his meeting with Ambassador Hossein Lavasani, the director of the ministry's Mideastern Affairs department, Turkekul Kurtekin, protested against a rally in support of the Islamist deputy, Merve Kavakci, held in Tehran at the weekend, Turkish diplomatic sources said.

Kurtekin called the rally "unacceptable" and an "interference" in Turkey's internal affairs.

Lavasani told reporters the meeting had been "productive".

Several hundred university students marched in Tehran on Saturday in support of Kavakci.

Turkey's Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit on Sunday accused Iran of trying to whip up Islamic extremism in secular Turkey.

"Even though we do not interfere in Iran's domestic affairs, Iran unfortunately continues efforts to export its own ideology," Ecevit said.

Iran on Tuesday rejected the accusation and called on Ankara to "avoid making statements that run counter to the growing relations between the two countries."

"What is going on in Turkey has nothing to do with Iran and we hope that the Turkish government will realistically evaluate its internal problems and avoid blaming others," the official IRNA news agency quoted Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi as saying.

Turkey and Iran normalised their ties last year after a period of tension caused by public statements by Iranian diplomats in support of the Turkish Islamist movement.

The two countries exchanged ambassadors in May 1998, after having recalled them for several months.


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