Turkish PM to visit Gaza despite U.S. plea

April 23, 2013 at 1:50 PM
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ANKARA, Turkey, April 23 (UPI) -- Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said Tuesday his plans to visit the Gaza Strip are unchanged despite Washington's plea to delay the trip.

He described as "not nice" a request by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry not to go, Today's Zaman reported.

In a stop in Ankara earlier this month, Kerry had urged Erdogan to delay his trip, saying the visit would harm the ongoing peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

Erdogan, speaking to reporters, said the exact date of the trip would be determined after his scheduled meeting with U.S. President Obama in Washington in May.

Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said during a press briefing Monday that Kerry's request was "objectionable."

Erdogan plans to visit the Palestinian territories to monitor the status of the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. Turkey had demanded the blockade be lifted as a condition of restoring ties with Israel.

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