Protecting ISIL hostages was Turkey's priority: President
Turkey could not have immediately said ‘yes’ to international calls for a coalition to fight ISIL while 49 Turkish citizens were hostages, says President Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said a now-resolved hostage situation in Iraq was one reason for Turkey not joining the international coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.

Meeting the rescued Mosul consulate staff including Consul General Ozturk Yilmaz in Cankaya presidential palace on Sunday, Erdogan said: "We could have given an immediate favorable response to the international coalition demands. Global powers were all united. But we could not have said that, because we had our 49 lives (held hostage).”

The 49 hostages – including diplomats, consular officials and their families - were kidnapped from the Mosul consulate on June 11, a day after ISIL took control of Iraq's second-largest city. Forty-six Turkish hostages among them arrived onTurkish soil following their rescue on Saturday.

"Some politicians and media institutions, domestic or foreign, acted irresponsibly, not at all caring for the sensitivity of the situation. We preferred silence for the security of our staff,” said Erdogan.

Referring to claims that Turkey bargained with the extremist group to rescue the hostages, the president said, "A financial bargain with the ISIL is totally out of question. But if the owners of those claims mention a political, diplomatic bargain, yes it is true.”

"This is a diplomatic victory.”

Erdogan left for New York Sunday afternoon to attend a U.N. General Assembly meeting between September 22 and October 1.

Erdogan said that a meeting with the U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is possible on the sidelines of the U.N. meeting.

The extremist ISIL terrorist group continues to control large swathes of land in Syria and Iraq, managing an establishment largely dependent on oil revenues. The group has posted several execution videos of other hostages, among whom were two American journalists and a British aid worker.

Turkey refrained from signing a treaty in Saudi Arabia on September 11 aiming to gather states for a coordinated campaign with a military dimension against ISIL.

Ten Arab countries, including Gulf Cooperation Council states, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon, plus the U.S., signed a treaty agreeing to coordinate efforts to fight the militants.

Last Modified: 2014-09-22 08:16:59
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