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Turkey's PM: 'I no longer talk to Obama'

Erdogan says he has stopped talking to Obama on the phone, amid growing Turkish-American strains over Syria and the Gaza Strip
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during AK Party group meeting on July 22, 2014 in Ankara, Turkey (AA)

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he has stopped talking to US President Barack Obama on the phone, amid growing strains between Ankara and Washington over Syria and the Gaza Strip.

Turkey, a strong supporter of the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, felt betrayed by what Ankara sees as a lenient stance of the United States towards Damascus.

"In the past, I was calling him (Obama) directly. Because I can't get the expected results on Syria, our foreign ministers are now talking to each other," Erdogan said in a live interview on pro-government ATV channel late Monday.

"And I have talked to (US Vice President Joe) Biden. He calls me and I call him.

"I expect justice in this process. I couldn't imagine something like this from those who are championing justice," Erdogan added without elaborating, in an apparent jibe at Washington.

The last phone conversation between the two leaders took place on February 20 after which the White House released a statement accusing Erdogan of misrepresenting the content of the conversation.

A staunch advocate of the Palestinian cause, Erdogan has recently been at loggerheads with Washington over Israel's offensive in the besieged Gaza Strip that has killed more than 600 Palestinians in two weeks.

Erdogan accused Tel Aviv of carrying out "state terrorism" and a "genocide" of Palestinians and criticised the United States for defending Israel's "disproportionate" tactics.

The US State Department branded his comments on Israel "offensive and wrong" but the prime minister hit back by saying the United States needed to engage in "self-criticism".

Erdogan is standing in 10 August presidential elections that he is expected to win, with analysts awaiting a more assertive foreign policy from Ankara if he becomes head of state.

"A completely independent country can never carry out a policy that encourages Israeli aggression," he told the MPs of his ruling Justice and Development Party at the national assembly.

Erdogan also criticized British Prime Minister David Cameron over his message of condolence for the Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza for overlooking hundreds of innocent Palestinians killed by the Israeli onslaught.

Meanwhile, Erdogan discussed with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon the ways to end Israeli attacks on the blockaded Gaza enclave, which have so far have claimed at least 644 Palestinian lives.

In a phone conversation made Tuesday at his request, Ban said the UN attaches great importance to Turkish efforts to negotiate a ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian movement Hamas.

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