Turkey's Erdogan lifts threat to expel Western ambassadors

Turkey Ambassadors

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan late Monday stepped back from a threat to expel the ambassadors of 10 Western nations over their support for a jailed activist, defusing a potential diplomatic crisis.

“We believe that these ambassadors, who have fulfilled their commitment to Article 41 of the Vienna Convention, will now be more careful in their statements,” he said in televised remarks following a three-hour Cabinet meeting in Ankara.

The envoys, including those of the U.S., Germany and France, last week called for the release of philanthropist Osman Kavala, who has been in a Turkish prison for four years awaiting trial on charges many view as unfounded.

The ambassadors of the Netherlands, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and New Zealand also joined the appeal.

As Monday’s Cabinet meeting was underway, the U.S. embassy in Ankara tweeted that it “maintains compliance” with Article 41, which outlines diplomats’ duties to respect the laws of the host state and not to interfere in internal affairs. Other missions posted the same message.

State-run Anadolu news agency interpreted this as a “step back.” Citing presidency sources, it reported that the development was “received positively” by Erdogan.

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