Kerry: Turkish comments complicate Mideast process
Although he did not back down from the Erdogan remarks, Davutoglu did say that Turkey was a strong proponent of the two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians and would do whatever it could to help achieve that.
Kerry said that despite the comments, he was hopeful Turkey and Israel could eventually find a way to restore their previously close relations.
The uproar has overshadowed Kerry's previously planned visit to the Turkish capital, where he had hoped to spend much of his time discussing the crisis in neighboring Syria and coordinating plans with the Turks to assist the Syrian opposition, which is fighting to oust President Bashar Assad.
The deterioration of Turkish-Israel relations has been a matter of deep worry for the U.S., which has unsuccessfully sought to push the two countries to get back on friendly terms.
Turkey and Israel were once important allies, but relations deteriorated sharply after the 2010 raid.
Turkey is a co-sponsor, along with Spain, of the U.N. initiative to promote tolerance and understanding between various religions.
Turkey's state-run news agency, Anadolu, reported Erdogan's remarks on Wednesday but removed the reference to "Zionism" in a correction sent out an hour later. It said the correction was "made by the source" but gave no other explanation.
Erdogan, whose ruling party has roots in Turkey's Islamic movement, frequently criticizes Israeli actions against Palestinians but rarely speaks out against Zionism. In November, he accused Israel of state terrorism and of an "attempt at ethnic cleansing," a euphemism that describes using violence to force a population to flee an area.
Kerry was in NATO ally Turkey on the fourth leg of a nine-nation dash through Europe and the Middle East that was his first official overseas trip as secretary of state. Kerry spent much of his time at his first three stops — Britain, Germany and Italy — focusing on the conflict in Syria.
Kerry's first stop in Ankara on Friday was the U.S. Embassy, where he spoke at a memorial service for a local Turkish security guard who was killed in a Feb. 1 suicide attack at the embassy gates. Kerry presented the man's family with an award for heroism.
From Turkey, Kerry will travel to Egypt on Saturday, followed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar before returning to Washington in the middle of next week.
Police, meanwhile, used tear gas to disperse a group of about 30 people who tried to break through police barricades and march toward Erdogan's office during an anti-US protest.
Kerry was not near the area at the time of the protest.
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