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Erdogan walks off stage
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Turkish PM walks off stage over Gaza
At Economic Forum in Davos, Erdogan tells Peres 'you are killing people'; Israeli president responds: You would do the same if rockets would fall on Istanbul

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan walked off the stage at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, red-faced after verbally sparring with Israeli President Shimon Peres over the fighting in Gaza.

 

Erdogan was angry after being cut off by a panel moderator after listening to an impassioned monologue by Peres defending Israel's recent offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

 

Erdogan declared to Peres: "You are killing people." A finger-pointing Peres told Erdogan at Thursday's panel that he would have done the same if rockets had been falling on Istanbul.

 

The confrontation saw Peres and Ergodan raise their voice shouting, highly unusual at the elite gathering of corporate and world leaders, which is usually marked by learned consensus seeking and polite dialogue. It showed how emotions remain frayed over Israel's offensive against Hamas that ended less than two weeks ago.

 

The packed audience at the Ergodan and Peres session, which included President Obama's close adviser Valerie Jarrett, appeared stunned.

 

'I was very sad that Ergodan left'

Afterward, forum founder Klaus Schwab huddled with Erdogan in a corner of the Congress Center. A press conference with both men was scheduled for 8:30 pm (1930 GMT)

 

"I have known Shimon Peres for many years and I also know Erdogan. I have never seen Shimon Peres so passionate as he was today. I think he felt Israel was being attacked by so many in the international community. He felt isolated," said former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik said.

 

"I was very sad that Ergodan left. This was an expression of how difficult this situation is."

 

Amr Moussa, the former Egyptian foreign minister who now leads the Arab League, said Ergodan's action was understandable. "Mr. Ergodan said what he wanted to say and then he left. That's all. He was right." Of Israel, he said, "They don't listen."

 

Ergodan brushed past reporters outside the hall. His wife appeared upset. "All Peres said was a lie. It was unacceptable," she said, eyes glistening.

 

Earlier Thursday Peres met Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and asked him to help prevent arms trafficking from Iran to Gaza.

 

Peres said that "Israel has learned from Russia that there are some measures a country must resort to when it has no other choice. This was the case in Gaza; it was not out of choice that we launched (the offensive), but out of necessity.

 

"We had to stop the incessant cycle of terror that harmed Israel's women and children; but nevertheless, Israel wants peace," the president said. 

 


First published: 01.29.09, 21:25
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