ANKARA, (AFP) – Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas was to begin a two-day visit to Turkey on Sunday to discuss troubled efforts to end the Middle East conflict, officials said.
Abbas was expected to arrive in Ankara Sunday afternoon and meet with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, before talks Monday with President Abdullah Gul, an official from Gul’s press office said.
The leaders will “discuss and consult on … bilateral ties, the latest situation in Palestine and regional developments, primarily the Middle East peace process,” a statement from the presidential palace said.
Direct talks between the Palestinians and Israel began on September 2 but stalled three weeks later with the expiry of an Israeli moratorium on settlement construction in occupied land, which the Jewish state has stubbornly refused to reimpose.
Abbas has repeatedly threatened to quit the talks if Israel does not begin a new freeze, particularly in annexed east Jerusalem which the Palestinians want as the capital of their future state.
Turkey has traditionally had close ties with the Palestinians and supports their claim to statehood.
It has also pressed for healing the rift between Abbas’ Fatah faction and the Islamist movement Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, while urging that Hamas should not be excluded from peace efforts.
Turkey’s once-close ties with Israel, meanwhile, plunged into a deep crisis on May 31 when Israeli forces killed nine Turks on a Gaza-bound aid ship.