Turkey's Erdogan in push to end Israeli bombardments over Gaza

Turkish PM Erdogan starts a four-country diplomatic push in the region to end Israeli bombardments over Gaza.Israel intensified its air strikes over Gaza, killing nearly 400 Palestinians in five days of air attacks.

Turkey's Erdogan in push to end Israeli bombardments over Gaza
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan flew to Syria on Wednesday as part of a four-country diplomatic push in the region to end Israeli bombardments over Gaza.

Erdogan said he planned to meet Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus and would hold talks later on Wednesday with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan's King Abdullah in the Red Sea resort of Aqaba.

Erdogan, who described Israel's four-day offensive in the Gaza Strip as merciless, said he also planned to meet Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Jan. 1 and Saudi King Abdullah in Riyadh on Jan. 3.

Israel intensified its air strikes over Gaza, killing nearly 400 Palestinians in five days of air attacks.

Medical officials put Palestinian casualties at 385 dead. Four Israelis have been killed.

"Turkey is deeply concerned about the human tragedy in Gaza and the spreading of violence in the Middle East," Erdogan told a news conference in Ankara before kicking off his trip.

"The aim of the regional tour which we are beginning today is to help in ending this dangerous development," he said.

Al Arabiya television said Erdogan would meet Khaled Meshaal, the exiled Hamas leader living in Damascus, but Erdogan said he had no plan to meet Hamas officials in Damascus.

An Erdogan aide told Reuters he was not aware of plans by other members of the delegation to meet Hamas leaders in Damascus.

Abdullah Gul, now Turkey's president, met a Hamas delegation including Meshaal in Ankara in 2006, when Gul was foreign minister.

Erdogan, whose country had mediated indirect peace talks between Israel and Syria before Damascus suspended them this week, slammed Israel for being disrespectful towards Turkish peace efforts.

"We have fought for peace and our concern will continue to be for peace," he said.


Reuters
Last Mod: 31 Aralık 2008, 16:25
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