New Zealand foreign minister headed to Turkey to confront president

Australian PM warns of all options in reviewing ties

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech next to a model dinosaur during the opening ceremony of the Wonderland Eurasia theme park in Ankara. — AFP

Wellington/Canberra — Vote hungry Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has angered many and created diplomatic spat with New Zealand and Australia by linking the Christchurch mosque shooting with a World War I battle targeting Islam.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Wednesday Foreign Minister Winston Peters will travel to Turkey to “confront” comments made by Erdogan on the killing of at least 50 people at two mosques.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison condemned “reckless” and “highly offensive” comments made by Erdogan, warning he would consider “all options” in reviewing ties.

Erdogan made these comments at a campaign rally that included video footage of the shootings which the alleged gunman had broadcast on Facebook.

Ardern said Peters would seek urgent clarification.

“Our deputy prime minister will be confronting those comments in Turkey,” Ardern told reporters in Christchurch. “He is going there to set the record straight, face-to-face.”

Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he summoned Turkey’s ambassador for a meeting, during which he demanded Erdogan’s comments be removed from Turkey’s state broadcaster.

“I will wait to see what the response is from the Turkish government before taking further action, but I can tell you that all options are on the table,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra. — Agencies