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Sunday, June 16, 2013 - Page updated at 01:33 a.m.

Defying gov't, Turkish protesters to stay in park

By ELENA BECATOROS
Associated Press

Protesters have agreed to press on with their 2-week-long sit-in at an Istanbul park, despite government appeals and warnings for the standoff with authorities to end, an activist said Saturday.

Tayfun Kahraman made the comment to The Associated Press after a series of discussions among the protesters in Gezi Park to decide on their next move.

He was one of two activists in Taksim Solidarity, an umbrella group of protest movements, who had met with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday.

The protesters are angry about government plans to pull down trees and redevelop the park area. An initial sit-in drew a forceful police response on May 31, setting off a wave of protests - Turkey's biggest in decades.

Saturday's announcement is likely to return the spotlight on Erdogan's government, which in recent days offered to defer to a court ruling on the legality of the redevelopment plan and possibly hold a referendum on it. But on Thursday, he issued a "final" warning that the protesters must leave the park.

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Jamey Keaten and Suzan Fraser contributed from Ankara, Turkey.

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