Merkel hits back at Turkey's claim that she's 'hiding terrorists'

Wil Longbottom, News Reporter

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has hit back at Turkey's President after he accused her of "supporting terrorists" as a diplomatic row between the two nations rumbles on.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that Berlin had not responded to 4,500 dossiers sent by Ankara on terror suspects.

Speaking on A-Haber television, he said: "Mrs Merkel, why are you hiding terrorists in your country? Why are you not doing anything?

"Mrs Merkel, you are supporting terrorists."

Turkey has long accused Germany of harbouring Kurdish militants and suspects wanted over the failed coup on 15 July last year.

:: Turkey demands apology from Dutch PM as row simmers

Steffen Seibert, a spokesman for Mrs Merkel, said the accusations were "clearly absurd".

He added: "The Chancellor has no intention of taking part in a game of provocation. These accusations are clearly absurd."

Mr Erdogan has criticised Mrs Merkel after she supported Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte following The Hague's refusal to let Turkish ministers hold rallies in the country ahead of a referendum on 16 April on expanding the Turkey President's powers.

On Monday, Ankara said the Dutch ambassador could not return to the country and added parliament would be advised to withdraw from the Dutch-Turkish friendship group.

German authorities last week also blocked rallies from taking place.

At that time, Mr Erdogan compared the decision to Nazism. He said: "Nazism, we can call this neo-Nazism. A new Nazism tendency."

It comes as Germany and the Netherlands revised travel advice for Turkey.

The Dutch foreign ministry urged citizens visiting Turkey to exercise caution following "diplomatic tensions" between the two nations, advising people to "be alert and avoid large crowds".

The German foreign ministry on Monday said travellers should expect heightened tensions and protests ahead of the referendum next month, and warned travellers to avoid political rallies and large crowds.

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