Obama discusses Turkey protests with Erdogan

Supporters of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan chants slogans upon his arrival at the Ataturk Airport of Istanbul early Friday, June 7, 2013. Erdogan took a combative stance on his closely watched return to the country early Friday, telling supporters who thronged to greet him that the protests that have swept the country must come to an end. In the first extensive public show of support since anti-government protests erupted last week, more than 10,000 supporters cheered Erdogan with rapturous applause outside Istanbul's international airport. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has spoken with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (REH’-jehp TY’-ihp UR’-doh-wahn) for the first time since protests swept through Turkey.

The White House says the two leaders discussed “the importance of nonviolence and of the rights to free expression.” They also discussed the right of assembly and a free press.

The protests began in late May and quickly turned into widespread demonstrations against Erdogan’s leadership. The demonstrations turned violent at times, and Erdogan has accused terrorist groups of involvement.

The leaders also discussed the situation in Syria and the need to provide support to forces opposing President Bashar Assad’s regime.

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