Hamas head holds unity talks with Turkey officials

Hamas head holds unity talks with Turkey officials

23-06-2011,09:34  – Ezzedeen Al-Qassam BrigadesAl Qassam website – Khaled Meshaal, head of Hamas political bureau, held talks with Turkish officials on efforts to achieve Palestinian unity during a two-day visit to Istanbul today, diplomats said.Meshaal’s talks in Turkey’s largest city coincided with a four-day trip to the capital Ankara by Mahmud Abbas, Fatah head, at a time when Palestinian officials have reported disagreements between the two factions over the formation of a unity government.

Meshaal “arrived in Istanbul on Tuesday and held talks with our foreign minister (Ahmet Davutoglu) and ministry bureaucrats on the Palestinian question,” a senior diplomat told AFP.

“They discussed the issue of Palestinian unity and regional affairs,” she said, adding that Meshaal was scheduled to leave later on Wednesday.

Another Turkish diplomat confirmed Meshaal’s talks with Turkish officials, adding that, “no meeting is scheduled between him and Abbas.”

Abbas arrived in Ankara on Tuesday afternoon.

Turkish officials said he would have a “private program” before talks on Thursday and Friday with President Abdullah Gul, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Davutoglu.

On Sunday, a Palestinian official cited Abbas’ trip to Turkey among the reasons for the indefinite postponement of a meeting between the Palestinian leader and Meshaal, which had been scheduled for Tuesday in Cairo.

The two were to have finalized the formation of a unity government. But other officials said later that disagreement over who should be the next Palestinian premier was holding up the creation of an interim government agreed last month between the old rivals.

The Cairo meeting was postponed due to Hamas opposition to the reappointment of Western-backed economist Salam Fayyad, they said.

Under the unity deal signed in May, Fatah and Hamas must agree on independent figures to make up a government that will lay the groundwork for legislative and presidential elections within a year.

Earlier, Erdogan has rejected the “terrorist” label for Hamas, defending the faction as “resistance fighters who are struggling to defend their land.”

Once-flourishing Turkish-Israeli ties plunged into a deep crisis last year when Israeli forces killed nine Turks in a raid on a Turkish ferry, part of an activist flotilla carrying aid to Gaza.

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