Police fire water cannons, tear gas to disperse protesters despite Turkish PM plea for calm

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Police firing water cannons and tear gas have dispersed protesters who erected street barricades near Turkey's parliament overnight.

It was the latest face-off between authorities and demonstrators over the government's response to a protest sit-in that began more than two weeks ago at a coveted Istanbul park.

The pre-dawn melee Saturday in Ankara — on a street also close to the U.S. Embassy — came hours after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government asked a small delegation of protesters to persuade the hundreds of others occupying Gezi Park to leave.

Erdogan has promised to let the courts — and a possible referendum — decide the fate of a park redevelopment project that has sparked Turkey's biggest protests in decades. His supporters were planning weekend counterdemonstrations in Ankara and Istanbul.