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August 6, 2012 10:52 pm

Strike One: Baseball Bat Deals a Blow to U.S.-Turkey Relations

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President Obama brandishing a baseball bat. Photo: The White House.

Shortly after a recent phone conversation between President Barack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan Monday, the White House issued a photo of the president holding the phone in one hand and a baseball bat, signed by baseball legend Hank Aaron, in the other. The photo outraged many Turks, who interpreted it as an insult to Erdogan.

“The photo reveals from whom our prime minister receives orders to rule the country,” Metin Lutfi Baydar, an opposition politician for Turkey’s Republican People’s Party (CHP) party, said in a statement. White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden then issued a statement insisting “we released the photo…to highlight the president’s continuing close relationship with Prime Minister Erdogan and draw attention to…the worsening situation in Syria… The president values his friendship and close partnership with Prime Minister Erdogan.”

Meanwhile, a columnist for the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet proposed a retaliatory photo: “Our prime minister should hold something in his hand while speaking to Obama — slippers, a belt or a rolling pin.”

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