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Turkish prime minister meets with protesters after warning

ISTANBUL, Turkey — A meeting between Turkey's prime minister and representatives of anti-government protesters ended early today without a clear resolution on how to end the occupation of a central Istanbul park that has become a flashpoint for the largest political crisis of his 10-year rule.

The talks between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erogan and the protesters were an effort to resolve a sit-in at Taksim Square's Gezi Park without resorting to a police intervention to clear out the demonstrators.

Erdogan on Thursday told the protesters he was giving them a "final warning" to leave the park. Although the late-night talks ended on what both sides indicated was a positive note, the possibility remained that protesters would refuse to leave and police would be sent in to remove them.

A violent police crackdown on May 31 against a small environmental protest aiming to prevent a development project at the park sparked protests that spread to dozens of cities across Turkey. Since then, hundreds and often thousands of people have set up camp in the park.

The demonstrations have morphed into a broader protest against what many say is the prime minister's increasingly authoritarian style and his perceived attempts to impose his religious and conservative views on a country with secular laws.

Speaking after the overnight meeting, a government official said construction work at the park would be frozen until a pending court decision is issued on whether the work is legal. A referendum could be held on the future of Gezi Park after that, he said.

Turkish prime minister meets with protesters after warning 06/13/13 [Last modified: Thursday, June 13, 2013 10:27pm]
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