BEIJING - Agence France-Press
Turkey has vowed to seek better ties with China, the foreign ministry here said, as the two sides look to mend fences after a row over Beijing's handling of unrest in mainly Muslim Xinjiang.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan conveyed the message through a representative who met Monday with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, the ministry said in a statement posted on its website.
Erdoğan had accused China of "a kind of genocide" in Xinjiang after unrest in July involving Turkic-speaking Muslim Uighurs that left nearly 200 people dead and sparked a massive Chinese security crackdown on the region.
The comments triggered a sharp rebuke from Beijing, which called them "irresponsible and groundless."
But Turkish State Minister Zafer Cağlayan, who met Wen on Erdoğan's behalf, extended an olive branch, according to China's foreign ministry.
"Turkey understands the measures China took to deal with the July 5 incident," Cağlayan was quoted as saying.
He also stressed Turkey's opposition to any form of separatism in China and said the two countries should expand trade and diplomatic ties.
Wen also emphasized the importance of ties with Ankara, the statement said.
China has said "separatists" orchestrated the rioting, which largely targeted members of the country's dominant Han ethnic group.
Uighurs however say the violence was sparked when Chinese security forces reacted harshly to peaceful protests over an earlier factory brawl in southern China that state media said left two Uighurs dead.
Uighurs have long complained of repression by China.
Turkey, which has strong linguistic and cultural links with China's eight million Uighurs, has repeatedly expressed concern about recent unrest in Xinjiang, while supporting Chinese sovereignty over the region.