Erdogan says Hamas key to Mideast peace

Feb. 27, 2009 at 2:26 PM
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ANKARA, Turkey, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says any attempts to bring about peace in the Middle East should involve the militant group Hamas.

Erdogan has recommended to U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell that any Middle East peace efforts not involving the Palestinian militant group would be impractical, Today's Zaman said Friday.

Through his new position, Mitchell is responsible for negotiations between Israel and Palestinian officials.

Erdogan told Mitchell during a meeting Thursday that Turkey has always supported Hamas' involvement in any peace negotiations.

"After (Hamas) won the elections, Turkey has constantly encouraged Hamas to make contributions to the peace process and positive changes have been observed upon this encouragement," Erdogan reportedly told the U.S. envoy.

Meanwhile, sources at the office of Turkish President Abdullah Gul said the head of state is planning a visit to the Middle East.

The unidentified sources told Today's Zaman that Gul is planning on visiting Israel, Iran and Iraq starting at an as-of-yet undetermined date.

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