Turkish riot police have descended on Istanbul's Taksim Square firing rubber bullets and tear gas as well as using water cannons in a bid to crush the anti-government protests which have been raging for nearly two weeks.

This is the first time police forces are entering the square, the nucleus of the protests.

The latest police action comes hours after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to hold talks with protesters.

"I particularly request an end to the demonstrations. If you [demonstrators] resort to some other means or continues in the same way, pardon me, but I will have to speak the language you understand. Because there is an end to patience. You cannot show this country as one when there is an environment of terrorism," Erdogan said earlier.

Many have fled the square and entered the nearby Gezi Park as some anti-government activists hurled stones and petrol bombs at the police forces.

Appealing to the protesters, police personnel said on loudspeakers: "Dear Gezi friends. We are unhappy with this situation. We don't want to intervene. We don't want to harm you. Please withdraw. If you don't throw rocks or bottles we will not intervene. Let's quit fighting," according to Reuters.

The operation was aimed at clearing "the banners and flags on the Ataturk statue and the AKM cultural centre", said officials. They said they have no intentions of cracking down on the protests at Gezi Park.

The police crackdown is likely to affect the talks between protest leaders and Erdogan scheduled for Wednesday.