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Friday, February 27, 2009

Turkey to US: Engage Hamas in talks

Fri, 27 Feb 2009 10:12:16 GMT | PressTV

US envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell meets Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (R) in Ankara
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the US should engage Hamas if progress is to be made on peace in the Middle East.

"Even though we do not approve Hamas' methods, Hamas should not be excluded from the peace process," said Erdogan who has been a fierce critic of Israeli policies against the Palestinian resistance movement.

Hamas “should be integrated into the political system and the peace process,” he added.

The Turkish premier made the remarks while meeting with the newly appointed US envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, on Thursday.

The US envoy, for his part, declared that Turkey will play a "key role" to achieve peace in the Middle East region.

"Turkey is a crucial ally of the United States and an important force for peace and security in the Middle East," Mitchell told reporters after the meeting.

Mitchell is currently in Ankara as part of a regional tour that will also take him to Israel and the West Bank.

On Wednesday, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said that talking to Hamas was the "right thing to do".

The democratically-elected Hamas government, sacked by Acting Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas, has been excluded from the US-mediated peace talks between Palestinians and Israel.

Hamas says excluding the legal government, elected by a majority of votes, from the peace process does not create a positive atmosphere to achieve success in the talks.

In his most recent criticism of the Israeli 23-day war on the Gaza Strip Erdogan said Israel had committed "crimes against humanity" in the blockaded strip.

In January, Erdogan walked off the stage at a Davos summit after he was repeatedly interrupted for criticizing Tel Aviv and Peres over the mass killing of Palestinians during the 23-day war on Gaza.

At least 1330 Palestinians were killed during Israel's Operation Cast Lead, while thousands of others, many of them women and children, remained hospitalized.

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