Both the government of Turkey and the US State Department have denounced remarks by US presidential hopeful and Texas Governor Rick Perry, who on Monday said the Eurasian nation was run by "Islamic terrorists" who may not belong in NATO, according to The Los Angeles Times.
Turkey both was a pioneer of secularism in the Muslim world and is a US ally.
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During a debate among Republican presidential candidates yesterday, Perry, who has earned greatest recognition during his campaign for his missteps, flubs and gaffes, said US aid to Turkey should be cut off and that it was a threat to US national security.
Turkey "is being ruled by, what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists," Perry was quoted as saying by The Times. "When you have countries like Turkey that are moving far away from the country that I lived in back in the 1970's as a pilot in the United States Air Force that was our ally, that worked with us, but today we don't see that."
According to The Associated Press, Turkish officials wasted no time in issuing a rebuttal. The Foreign Ministry issued a withering statement, saying Perry's words were "baseless and inappropriate" and that American voters should not waste time with candidates "who do not even know their allies."
US State Department spokesman Mark Toner also rejected Perry's claims, according to the AP, telling reporters: "We absolutely and fundamentally disagree with that assertion."
"Turkey, as I said, is a -- is a strong partner in the region. We've seen it make a very courageous stand against what's going on in Syria, for example. It continues to play a very positive and constructive role in the region. And it is often cited -- an example of a so-called Islamic democracy in action," Toner was quoted as saying by The Times.
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However Perry stood by his remarks today, appearing on CNN's The Situation Room and saying Turkey had to account for its policies.
"This is a country that's got some explaining to do to the United States," he said.
Ahead of Saturday's primary in South Carolina, The Hill reports that a recent Rasmussen poll put Perry at five percent, behind Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.