Many Protest Leaders Back Out Of Erdoğan Meeting Over Gezi Park

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  • Turkey 12June2013 3pm
    Anti-government protesters read books at Kizilay square in central Ankara June 12, 2013. About 50 protesters gathered at the square to read books in an attempt to circumvent police bans against mass gatherings and protests in the capital.
  • Turkey 12June2013
    An anti-government protester, wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, makes V-signs in front of a barricade during clashes in Ankara on June 11, 2013.
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The Taksim Square and Gezi Park Turkish protesters were due to have their much-anticipated face-to-face meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday. However, after a day and night of police hurling tear gas and spraying water cannons at protesters, CNN is reporting that “most protest leaders have bailed out of the talks.” Those who agreed to move forward with the talks are “friendly with the Erdoğan government,” protest leader Eyup Muhcu told CNN, and he said the talks would not represent all of the protesters because not all protest leaders were invited to participate.

No other news outlet confirmed that the talks were canceled as of this writing. Taksim Square, the epicenter of the now countrywide protests, was reportedly quiet on Wednesday morning prior to when the talks were scheduled to commence, even as hundreds of protesters remained in the square.

The White House acknowledged the protesters, according to Reuters. “We believe that Turkey's long-term stability, security and prosperity is best guaranteed by upholding the fundamental freedoms of expression, assembly and association, and a free independent media,” White House Spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said.

Erdoğan has been less than magnanimous toward the protesters and has repeatedly referred to them as “riff-raff” and “anarchists and terrorists.” He also declaring that he will not “kneel before them.”

Three to four people have died, and 5,000 have been injured in the protests, the Washington Post reported. The Turkish lira has also taken a beating.

Follow Maya Shwayder on Twitter.

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