Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he has stopped talking to US President Barack Obama on the phone, amid growing strains between Ankara and Washington over Syria and Gaza, AFP reports Tuesday.
Turkey, a fierce opponent of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and an open supporter of armed rebel fighters, felt betrayed when the United States backed away from military action against Damascus in September.
"In the past, I was calling him (Obama) directly. Because I can't get the expected results on Syria, our foreign ministers are now talking to each other," Erdogan said in a live interview on pro-government ATV channel late Monday. "And I have talked to (US Vice President Joe) Biden. He calls me and I call him."
"I expect justice in this process. I couldn't imagine something like this from those who are championing justice," Erdogan added without elaborating, in an apparent jibe at Washington.
The last phone conversation between the two leaders took place on February 20 after which the White House released a statement accusing Erdogan of misrepresenting the content of the conversation.
A staunch advocate of "the Palestinian cause," Erdogan has recently been at loggerheads with Washington over Israel's self-defense operation in Gaza, which is now in its fifteenth day.
The US State Department branded his comments on Israel "offensive and wrong" but the prime minister hit back by saying the United States needed to engage in "self-criticism."
The US reiterated its stance on Erdogan's comments on Monday, noting they undermine Turkey's political clout.
“Well, we certainly believe that comments like these undercut Turkey’s ability to effectively influence the situation,” said deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf, who called Erdogan’s “offensive and awful”.
“We will continue working with Turkey on a number of issues, but comments like these really have no place in this discussion,” she added.
Erdogan is standing in August 10 presidential elections that he is expected to win.