Lay off Iran’s nukes, Turkish leader says

(JTA) — Turkey’s prime minister called on Western countries to stop pressuring Iran to abandon its nuclear program.

“Those who are chanting for global nuclear disarmament should first start in their own countries,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday, according to The New York Times, during a meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as part of a two-day official visit to Iran.

Erdogan called for the expansion of his country’s ties with the Islamic Republic.

“Turkey is determined to enhance its brotherly relations with Iran,”  he said, the Tehran Times reported.

Erdogan’s statements come two weeks after Turkey excluded Israel from a NATO military exercise it was hosting. The drill participants, led by the United States, refused to take part in the exercise, leading to its cancellation.

Israel-Turkey relations have grown tense since the Gaza war, with Turkey taking the lead in some international forums in demanding that Israel be held accountable for alleged war crimes. Turkey also is upset with Israel over the delay of delivery of military equipment that it purchased from the Jewish state.

Also this month, Israel’s Foreign Ministry summoned Turkey’s acting ambassador over a Turkish state television program that vilified Israel by showing Israeli soldiers shooting Palestinian children and mistreating elderly Arabs.


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