CAIRO, (AFP) – The leaders of Egypt and Turkey met in Cairo on Wednesday to discuss stuttering international efforts to coax Israeli and Palestinian leaders back to the negotiating table, the MENA news agency said.
Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak and President Abdullah Gul discussed “efforts to revive the Middle East process as well regional developments of mutual interest,” the official news agency reported.
Mubarak also highlighted “Egypt’s efforts to push forward the peace process, as well as negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, and Egyptian efforts to achieve Palestinian reconciliation,” it said.
Gul arrived in Cairo on Tuesday night and was to leave Egypt later on Wednesday, officials said.
Mubarak on Sunday hosted separate meetings with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who are taking part in indirect talks brokered by US Middle East envoy George Mitchell.
Mitchell, who is trying to clinch an agreement to a face-to-face meeting between Netanyahu and Abbas, also met with Mubarak on Sunday.
He then held talks with Arab League chief Amr Mussa, who later told reporters the Palestinians could not move automatically from the indirect talks to face-to-face negotiations.
The Palestinians froze direct talks in December 2008 when Israel launched a 22-day assault on the Gaza Strip.
They have said there can be no direct talks without progress on border and security issues, and without an Israeli pledge to halt all settlement activity on occupied territory, including east Jerusalem.
Turkey’s Islamist-rooted government has sought a stronger Turkish role in the Middle East, notably improving ties with Muslim countries, among them former foes Syria and Iran.
Both Egypt and Turkey have repeatedly insisted their positions in the region are complementary, not competitive.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met with Hamas supremo Khaled Meshaal in Damascus Monday, Anatolia news agency reported.
The two men discussed efforts to heal the rift between Hamas, the radical Islamist group controlling the Gaza Strip, and the Fatah faction of Abbas, Anatolia said, adding the Middle East peace process was also on their agenda