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Turkey's Presidential Guards Not Allowed At G-20 Summit, Germany Says

Jun 27, 2017
Originally published on June 27, 2017 8:26 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And let's go to Germany now, where fear of potential terror attacks means local security is going to be very tight when world leaders gather at next month's G-20 summit in Hamburg. Leaders will also be bringing their own armed security details with one important exception. The German foreign ministry is asking Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to leave his bodyguards behind. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson explains why.

SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON, BYLINE: The German decision is in reaction to what Erdogan's security detail did during a May visit to Washington, D.C.

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UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken).

NELSON: Videos show his bodyguards and officers pushing past U.S. police officers outside the Turkish ambassador's residence.

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UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Get back.

NELSON: They then punched and kicked Kurdish protesters, including a woman lying on the ground. Nine people were injured. In response, U.S. prosecutors last week charged a dozen of the Turkish security guards with assault. Ankara blamed the violence on the demonstrators, but Germany isn't buying the Turkish explanation.

The daily Die Welt reported some of the Turkish agents involved in the D.C. attack appeared on the list of 50 bodyguards Turkey plans to bring to Hamburg next month for the G-20 summit. The German newspaper reports Chancellor Merkel's government told Turkey no. German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer won't comment on any outright ban but said all security details at the summit have to respect the law.

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MARTIN SCHAEFER: (Speaking German).

NELSON: He told German public broadcaster ARD that he has it on good authority the Turkish guards facing U.S. charges, quote, "won't be stepping on German soil for the foreseeable future, including during the G-20." There's been no response from Turkey, where the government is closed for a Muslim holiday. But any restrictions on the Turkish contingent will likely sour already tense relations between Berlin and Ankara, sparked by Erdogan's clampdown on democracy in Turkey. Meanwhile, German authorities are beefing up their police presence in Hamburg in advance of the summit that begins Friday after next.

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HARMUT DUDDE: (Speaking German).

NELSON: Hartmut Dudde, who is heading German security at the conference, says all of his country's police force will be available at a moment's notice in Hamburg if needed. Besides preparing for potential terror attacks by Islamic extremists, German police say they are ready to deal with any violent left-wing opponents of the G-20. They are accused of torching several cars in the German port city ahead of the summit. Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, NPR News, Berlin.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BLUE HILL") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.