turkish pm erdogan 88.
(photo credit: )
Following demands from the United States and Israel, Turkey has launched an initiative to soothe rising tensions between Israel and the Palestinians sparked by the abduction of Cpl. Gilad Shalit and Kassam attacks on Ashkelon.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent one of his key advisers to Damascus on Thursday to inform the Assad administration that Syria had to increase cooperation with Israel and the United States in the name of peace and stability in the region.
In a 90-minute meeting, Turkish Ambassador Ahmet Davutoglu asked Syrian President Bashar Assad to end Syria's negative attitude. Davutoglu also warned Damascus that Israel and the US were very serious and would not hesitate to take action against Syria if the crisis kept mounting.
The Turkish adviser said that Damascus could be more constructive in establishing peace between Israel and Palestinians. He underlined that Assad's influence on the Palestinians was obvious and that the Syrian leader should use it responsibly for the sake of peace, noting that the two-state solution was the starting point in the region and that other nations had to respect Israel's right to exist as a state as well as the Palestinians'.
The Jerusalem Post learned that Assad submitted a dossier to the Turkish adviser containing Syria's conditions for setting up a dialogue with Israel. The dossier included the demand that Israel ease its restrictions on the Palestinians.
Turkish sources said that Israel and the US had asked Turkey, Russia and Egypt to increase pressure on Syria. Davutoglu was chosen as the envoy due to his close personal contacts with Syrians and with Mashaal. The Turkish media earlier reported that he was the key name in organizing the controversial trip Hamas members - including Mashaal - took to Ankara last February.
The Turkish Prime Minister's Office categorically denied claims, however, that Davutoglu met with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal. The written statement asserted that Davutoglu met only with Assad and returned to Turkey.
Recently, Erdogan harshly criticized Israel's detention of Hamas cabinet members, saying that he would discuss the crisis with the United States. "I have difficulty understanding the abduction of eight Palestinian ministers and 50 members of parliament and administrators, and I don't see this as ever adding to peace in the Middle East," he said in televised remarks.
After a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul in Washington, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice noted that Turkish envoys had told Syrian authorities "as directly as possible" that they should use their leverage to secure the release of Shalit.
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