U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says the United States finds recent comments on Zionism by Turkey's prime minister "objectionable."
Speaking at a UN-organized conference in Vienna on February 27, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Islamophobia ought to be considered a crime against humanity "just like Zionism, anti-Semitism, and fascism."
Speaking on March 1 at a news conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Ankara, Kerry said, "We not only disagree with it, but we find it objectionable."
Kerry stressed the "urgent need to promote a spirit of tolerance, and that includes all of the public statements made by all leaders."
He said he raised the remarks "very directly" with Davutoglu and would do the same when he met Prime Minister Erdogan later on March 1.
"Turkey and Israel are both vital allies of the United States and we want to see them work together in order to be able to go beyond the rhetoric and begin to take concrete steps to change this relationship," Kerry added.
Israel's prime minister has called Erdogan's comments "dark and mendacious."
The White House issued a statement condemning them.
A spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described them as "unfortunate, hurtful, and divisive."
Turkey was once Israel's only Muslim ally, but relations have deteriorated sharply in recent years.
Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP