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24 February 2015, 11:20
Metropolitan Police have denied claims that they failed to contact Turkish authorities about three missing schoolgirls who are believed to have travelled to Syria via Istanbul.
Turkish deputy prime minister Bulent Arinc told reporters that British officials would be accountable should the search prove fruitless because of a three day delay in alerting the country.
But Scotland Yard today (Tuesday 24 February) said they began working with Turkish authorities the day after the first two teenagers were reported missing a week ago.
Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and 15-year-old Amira Abase are being hunted in the country after they boarded a flight from Gatwick Airport to Istanbul last Tuesday, thought to be intent on joining the so-called Islamic State (IS) terror group.
A Scotland Yard statement said: "Once we established that the girls had travelled to Turkey, police made contact with the foreign liaison officer at the Turkish Embassy in London on Wednesday, 18 February.
"Since then we have been working closely with the Turkish authorities who are providing great assistance and support to our investigation."
A public appeal for information about the missing girls was launched by police on Friday, three days after the girls boarded their flight to Turkey.
Turkish deputy prime minister Bulent Arinc criticised the police for not taking "necessary measures".
He said: "It is a condemnable act for Britain to let three girls ... come to Istanbul and then let us know three days later.
"They haven't taken the necessary measures.
"The search is ongoing. It would be great if we can find them. But if we can't, it is not us who will be responsible, but the British."
It comes after Prime Minister David Cameron urged airlines and internet companies to do more to prevent radicalised British teenagers travelling to the Middle East.