Turkey says Hamas not moving to country

Jan. 31, 2012 at 8:33 AM
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ANKARA, Turkey, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- Turkey said it will not allow Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal to move the group's headquarters to that country from Syria nor provide millions in aid to the group.

"Khaled Mashaal's stay in Turkey is out of question," Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc told a news conference Monday.

Turkey, which Mashaal visited recently, recognizes Hamas as a legal political party while fellow NATO members do not.

Arinc also dismissed reports Turkey had promised to provide Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, $300 million in aid, Today's Zaman reported. The Turkish Foreign Ministry also denied reports diplomatic sources said Turkey would provide the aid.

Mashaal, 55, has been based in Damascus, Syria, since 2001, and serving as the chief of Hamas since 1996, charged with setting policy and planning attacks against Israel.

Today's Zaman said Mashaal has not been spending much time in Syria where more than 5,000 people have been killed in 10 months of anti-government protests.

Hamas denied in a recent report it was moving its headquarters out of Syria and said Mashaal's absence was due to security concerns.

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