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Erdogan treads carefully on Soleimani killing

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was cautious in his first comments on the US killing of Iran’s Qasem Soleimani, criticizing the move but being careful not to align Ankara with Tehran.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan leaves after the Global Refugee Forum at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, December 17, 2019, REUTERS/Denis Balibouse - RC24XD926X0X

In his first detailed comments on the killing of Iran’s most celebrated commander Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani in a US drone strike on Jan. 3, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized the move, saying it aggravated regional tensions and that his death had come as “a shock.” The Turkish leader’s messages during an hour-and-a-half-long interview aired Sunday on the government-friendly CNN Turk were cautiously worded but left no doubt that he doesn’t want his country embroiled in a conflict between the United States and Iran.

Erdogan said, “Soleimani is an individual who proved himself and one who was accorded extraordinary value by [Iran’s Supreme Leader] Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. I believe that the killing of a state’s commander cannot go unanswered. The choice that [the United States] made was ill advised and has increased tensions.”

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