Kerry concerned by implications tying U.S. to Russian diplomat's assassination

By Doug G. Ware  |  Updated Dec. 21, 2016 at 7:44 AM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- The top U.S. diplomat on Tuesday told his Turkish counterpart that he's concerned about implications the man accused of assassinating Russian envoy Andrey Karlov ties the United States with the killing, officials said.

Secretary of State John Kerry passed on his concerns to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters Tuesday. The department later posted a readout of Kerry's call with Cavusoglu.

"John Kerry called Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu today to convey his condolences regarding the recent terror attacks in Turkey. The secretary also offered U.S. assistance to the investigation into the horrific murder of Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov," spokesman John Kirby said in a statement. "Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Cavusoglu also discussed the situation in Syria and the ongoing efforts to reach an immediate cease-fire, secure the prompt delivery of humanitarian assistance, and resume political talks to end the civil war."

Karlov was shot dead while attending an art exhibit in Ankara on Monday. The Turkish and Russian claims of U.S. complicity stems from the fact that exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is allegedly behind the attack, has lived under asylum in the United States since 1999.

Turkey considers Gulen and his followers to be a terrorist organization it calls the Gulenist Terror Cult or the Fethullah Terrorist Organization.

Kerry's concerns were reported by the Daily Sabah on Tuesday.

"Both Turkey and Russia know the Gulenist Terror Cult was behind Russian envoy Andrey Karlov's assassination," sources quoted Cavusoglu as telling Kerry.

No one has alleged there was tacit U.S. approval of the shooting, but Kerry is worried that's how it might be received by some in the international community.

Turkish officials have termed the assassination a failed coup attempt.

Turkish officials believe Gulen was also involved in another coup attempt involving the Turkish military in July.

U.S. officials, including Kerry, condemned the assassination Monday.

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