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New Zealand FM to 'confront' Erdogan for linking mosque massacre to Ottoman battle

President Erdogan made reference to the Battle of Gallipoli in his controversial remarks [Getty]

Date of publication: 20 March, 2019

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New Zealand's top diplomat will 'seek urgent clarification' from Turkey's president over recent remarks which linked the Christchurch shootings to the Battle of Gallipoli.

New Zealand's foreign minister will travel to Turkey to "confront" President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over his remarks on the Christchurch mosque shootings, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Wednesday.

Speaking at a political rally on Monday, Erdogan warned that Turkey would punish the Australian attacker who killed 50 people at Mosques in New Zealand.

The Turkish leader also made reference to the Battle of Gallipoli, in which 8,000 Australians died fighting Turkish forces during World War I, saying that anti-Muslim attackers from Australia would be sent back in coffins "like their grandfathers were".

Ardern said New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters would seek clarification over Erdogan's remarks.

"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."

Erdogan had already been sharply rebuked by New Zealand for his comments and for using gruesome video shot by the Christchurch mosque gunman as an election campaign prop.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison condemned the Turkish leader's comments as "reckless" and "highly offensive," warning he would consider "all options" in reviewing ties.

"Remarks have been made by the Turkish President Erdogan that I consider highly offensive to Australians, and highly reckless in this very sensitive environment," Morrison said after summoning the Turkish ambassador and dismissing the "excuses" offered.

"I am expecting, and I have asked, for these comments to be clarified, to be withdrawn," he added.

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