New Zealand leader Jacinda Ardern sends minister to Turkey to ‘confront’ Erdogan about mosque shooting comments

Turkish president claims his country will make suspected attacker pay if New Zealand does not

Chiara Giordano
Wednesday 20 March 2019 10:11 GMT
New Zealand opens parliament session with reading from Quran

New Zealand’s foreign minister will travel to Turkey to “confront” comments made by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan ​after a terror attack at mosques in Christchurch, prime minister Jacinda Ardern has said.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, was charged with murder on Saturday after a gunman opened fire at two mosques during Friday prayers, killing at least 50 people.

Mr Erdogan, who is trying to drum up support for his Islamist-rooted AK Party ahead of the 31 March local elections, said Turkey would make the suspected attacker pay if New Zealand did not.

The comments came at a campaign rally that included video footage of the shootings which the alleged gunman had broadcast on Facebook.

Ms Ardern said foreign minister Winston Peters would seek urgent clarification.

“Our deputy prime minister will be confronting those comments in Turkey,” she told reporters in Christchurch on Wednesday.

“He is going there to set the record straight, face to face.”

Mr Peters had earlier condemned the airing of footage of the shooting, which he said could endanger New Zealanders abroad.

But despite the politician’s intervention, an extract from Mr Tarrant’s alleged manifesto flashed up on a screen at the rally in Turkey again on Tuesday, along with footage of the gunman entering one of the mosques and shooting as he approached the door.

Jacinda Ardern comforts people at the Kilbirnie mosque in Wellington on Sunday

Meanwhile, Australian prime minister Scott Morrison said he summoned Turkey’s ambassador for a meeting, during which he demanded Mr Erdogan’s comments be removed from Turkey’s state broadcaster.

He told reporters in Canberra: “I will wait to see what the response is from the Turkish government before taking further action, but I can tell you that all options are on the table.”

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Mr Morrison said Australia’s ambassador to Turkey will meet with members of Mr Erdogan’s government on Wednesday.

He said Canberra is also reconsidering its travel advice for Australians planning trips to Turkey.

Relations between Turkey, New Zealand and Australia have generally been good.

Thousands of Australians and New Zealanders travel to Turkey for memorial services every year on 25 April to commemorate Anzac Day, which remembers all those who have served and died in wars and conflicts.

Anzac Day originally honoured members of the Australian and New Zealand army corps (ANZAC) who served in the Gallipoli campaign, their first engagement in the First World War and one which claimed more than 130,000 lives.

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