ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday lashed out at his US counterpart Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, saying it would put the region in a “ring of fire”.
“Taking this type of step puts the world, especially the region, in a ring of fire,” Erdogan said in a speech to supporters at Ankara airport before heading on a visit to Greece.
“Hey Trump! What do you want to do?” he said, addressing the US leader directly in one of Erdogan’s most familiar rhetorical habits.
“What kind of approach is this? Political leaders do not stir things up, they seek to make peace!” he added.
There were chants of “damn Israel!” and boos from Erdogan supporters gathered at the airport when the president first mentioned the US move.
In a speech on Wednesday, Trump overturned decades of US policy with a decision to recognise the disputed city. He also kicked off the process of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Erdogan accused Trump of trying to be an agitator and said the decision “completely disregarded” the 1980 UN resolution on the contested city’s status.
Turkey will hold a leaders’ summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Wednesday in Istanbul to discuss Trump’s decision.
Turkey currently holds the chairmanship of the OIC.
Erdogan said work continued for other events planned for after this summit but he did not give further detail.
Around 1,500 people gathered outside the US consulate in Istanbul on Wednesday night to protest against Trump, chanting slogans such as “down with America!”.
Erdogan said he was due to speak with Pope Francis on Thursday evening or on Friday, as well as with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Western allies including Germany.
“This is now not just the duty of Muslims, but also of humanity” to oppose the move, Erdogan added.
He hit back at Trump saying that being strong did not mean that you were automatically right but that “the righteous are the strong”.
Relations between Washington and Ankara have already been strained over the Syrian conflict as well as the US failure to extradite a Pennsylvania-based Muslim cleric blamed for last year’s attempted overthrow of Erdogan.