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Time ticking for Assad in Syria: Turkey's Erdogan

Sep 24, 2011, 10:13 a.m.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan addresses the 66th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, in New York, September 22, 2011. REUTERS/Chip East

"We don't want to see the clash of civilizations in this world. We want to see the alliance of civilizations. The world is so fed up with wars."

The prime minister tried to calm concerns over plans for a missile defense base in Turkey, saying the installation is a NATO concept and not a factor in Iran's tensions with Israel.

"We don't think Iran should get offended when there's no reason. We don't want to see Israel coming up with different interpretations from what is actually the reality," he said.

He questioned why Iran should be banned from having nuclear technology while Israel is allowed to be the only country in the region with nuclear weapons.

"Iran says that its only purpose is to generate affordable energy through nuclear power. We do not want to act on presumptions, and no sanctions based on presumptions are acceptable by Turkey," Erdogan said.

He also addressed reports he had taken holidays with Assad, whose crackdown on protests in Syria has led to U.S. calls for the long-time leader to step aside.

Erdogan said Assad was invited to a popular holiday locale but it was to discuss relations between the two countries and the two leaders never took a vacation together.

He said he finally lost patience with Assad.

"If you're going to act against the fundamental rights, liberties and the law, you will lose your position in my heart as my brother and my friend," Erdogan said. "I was very patient. Patience, patience, patience. And then I cracked."

(Reporting by Jasmin Melvin; Editing by John O'Callaghan)

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