ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Friday during his first visit to a Muslim nation since taking office. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry criticized a comment by Turkey's prime minister likening Zionism to crimes against humanity, as the disagreement cast a shadow over talks between the NATO allies. Kerry met Turkish leaders for talks meant to focus on the civil war in neighboring Syria and bilateral interests from energy security and Iran's nuclear program to counter-terrorism. But the comment by Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan at a U.N. meeting in Vienna this week, condemned by his Israeli counterpart, the White House and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, has clouded his visit. Erdogan told the U.N. Alliance of Civilizations meeting in Vienna on Wednesday: "Just as with Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism, it has become necessary to view Islamophobia as a crime against humanity." The Turkish prime minister's caustic rhetoric on Israel has in the past won applause from conservative supporters at home but raised increasing concern among Western allies. Kerry said Turkey and Israel were both key U.S. allies and urged them to restore closer ties. Washington needs all the allies it can get as it navigates the political currents of the Middle East, and sees Turkey as a key player in supporting Syria's opposition and planning for the era after President Bashar al-Assad. A group of leftist protesters staged a demo in Turkish capital of Ankara denouncing Kerry's visit. Minor clashes erupted when the protesters wanted to march to Turkish Prime Ministry premises where Kerry held talks with Erdogan. Police used tear gas to disperse the crowd.
Mar. 1 - Kerry meets Turkish prime minister and president as protesters take to the streets. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). ( Transcript )
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