Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoðan remained firm in defending his government's much-criticized decision to hold talks with Palestinian radical group Hamas in Ankara, as tension with Israel, which denounced the group's visit to Turkey last week, cooled off.
Erdoðan said Hamas leaders were given the "right messages at the right time" in Ankara to renounce violence and recognize Israel's right to exist and dismissed criticism, saying Turkey, a country with a historic responsibility in the Middle East, could not remain a bystander to the conflict.
The prime minister also criticized Israel for use of economic sanctions against the Palestinians for voting Hamas into power, saying this would be a "controlled democracy, which would be disrespectful to Palestinians."
His remarks came hours before Israeli Ambassador to Turkey Pinhas Avivi held talks with two senior officials of Erdoðan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) at the party's headquarters to defuse tension that followed Hamas' two-day visit to Ankara last week.
An Israeli official told the Turkish Daily News that the atmosphere in Avivi's talks was "very good" and described the meeting as "very positive," without elaborating on specifics of the talks.
Turkish Daily NewsLast Mod: 00 0000, 00:00