Erdogan slams US over Saudi 9/11 law

2016-10-01 22:23
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (File, AP)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (File, AP)

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Ankara - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday condemned a US Congress vote to override Barack Obama's veto of a bill allowing 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia, saying he expected the move to be reversed as soon as possible.

Relations between Ankara and Riyadh have tightened considerably in the past months as they pursue joint interests in Syria. Erdogan had just the day earlier hosted Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef for talks at his palace.

"The allowing by the US Congress of lawsuits to be opened against Saudi Arabia over the 9/11 attacks is unfortunate," Erdogan said in a speech for the opening of parliament.

"It's against the principle of individual criminal responsibility for crimes. We expect this false step to be reversed as soon as possible," he added.

Expanding ties

Families of 9/11 victims have campaigned for the law, convinced the Saudi government had a hand in the attacks that killed almost 3 000 people.

Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens, but no link to the government has been proven. The Saudi government denies any ties to the plotters.

Obama called the vote a "dangerous precedent" while Saudi Arabia warned it risked having "disastrous consequences".

The visit by the Saudi crown prince to Ankara was the latest sign of the burgeoning relationship between Turkey and Saudi Arabia, two mainly Sunni Muslim powers who both support rebels battling President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

Erdogan told Nayef on Friday that the expanding ties "offer opportunities for regional and global stability", the Anadolu news agency said. Nayef said Riyadh was pleased that the two countries "have the same thinking on all issues".

Alleged plotters

Erdogan also warned that Turkey had reached the "end of the game" over its decades-long EU membership bid, saying it was time for Brussels once and for all to make clear if it wanted Ankara as a member.

He also told Brussels it needed to allow Turks visa-free travel to the bloc by October, as per a previous agreement to decrease migrant flows.

Relations between the European Union and Turkey have strained in the wake of the July 15 failed coup, with EU officials among the most vocal critics of the relentless crackdown against the alleged plotters and supporters

"If the EU is going to make Turkey a full member, we are ready. But they should know that we have came to the end of the game," Erdogan said.

"There is no need to beat around the bush or engage in diplomatic acrobatics.

"It's their (the EU's) choice to continue the path with or without Turkey. They should not hold us responsible," he added.

Read more on:    recep tayyip erdogan  |  barack obama  |  turkey  |  us

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