Turkey's Foreign Ministry released a scathing statement condemning comments by U.S. Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry as "baseless and inappropriate" and said that the United States has no time to waste with candidates "who do not even know their allies."
Perry, the Texas governor, said Turkey was ruled by "what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists" and questioned the country's NATO membership.
In a debate ahead of the South Carolina primaries, he said Turkey was moving "far away from the country that I lived in back in the 1970s as a pilot in the United States Air Force that was our ally, that worked with us."
He also said that the United States should eliminate all aid to its longtime ally. Perry's candidacy briefly soared when he entered the presidential race in August, but his shine faded after a series of weak debate performances.
Turkey, which has assisted NATO in Afghanistan and other missions said it has been at the forefront of the fight against terrorism. It said it was "strongly condemning" Perry's words.
"Turkey joined NATO while the governor was still 2 years old," the statement said. "It is a member that has made important contributions to the trans-Atlantic alliance's conflict-full history. It is among countries that are at the front lines in the fight against terrorism."
Turkey has been ruled by a government led by pious Muslims since 2002. Although its ties with Israel have deteriorated, the government has maintained a close relationship with the West while seeking to represent the views of the Muslim world.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the Obama administration fundamentally disagrees with the assertion that Turkey is run by Islamic terrorists.
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