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Middle East

Turkish Foreign Minister met Hamas boss in Damascus

media Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (L) and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal … Photo: (Michael Gross / Trango)

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Damascus, the Anatolia news agency reported on Tuesday. On Monday, the two discussed efforts to resolve a rift between Hamas and Fatah, as well as the Middle East peace process. On its website Hamas said discussions also covered the Israeli blockage on the Gaza Strip.

Hamas said on their website, according to the AFP news agency, that their discussions covered “ways of breaking the embargo” on the Gaza Strip and that Davutoglu said Turkey would “pursue its efforts to lift” the blockade. It said Davutoglu told Meshaal that Turkey was still demanding an apology from Israel for the attack on the Turkish ship.

The Turkish foreign ministry has yet to confirm the meeting, but following the flotilla attack, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan defended the Hamas group, calling them “resistance fighters who are struggling to defend their land”. Erdogan’s government thinks Hamas are vital to peace in Middle East, and wants them to renounce violence and engage in peaceful negotiation.

“The Palestinians have to have unity between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, hence the need to confront the blockade that Israel has imposed on the Gaza Strip. This is definitely a Turkish bid to make some real change in the region,” Middle East expert Rosemary Hollis told RFI.

“Turkey’s going to run into opposition from Washington, which has consistently opposed reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah. Washington’s line is that you marginalise Hamas - and reward Fatah - for being more amenable for talking to the Israelis."

“Turkey's pointing out that you do not refuse to talk to people you don’t like, if you really genuinely want conflict resolution,” says analyst Hollis.

"They [Turkey] seem to have decided that their future role is to stand up for what needs to happen, if there is any prospect of the Palestinians getting a state."

Middle East analyst Rosemary Hollis 20/07/2010 - by Marjorie Hache Listen

 
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