Erdogan blames Israel for deadlock in ME peace talks

Turkish PM addresses reporters along with Syrian counterpart, highlights concerns that US efforts left unsolved due to Israel's "intransigence."

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
December 21, 2010 21:14
1 minute read.
Erdogan, left, and his Syrian counterpart

Erdogan, Syrian counterpart shaking hands 311. (photo credit: AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

 
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ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday blamed Israeli "intransigence" for the deadlock in Mideast peace talks and called on the international community to work toward breaking the impasse.

Erdogan was addressing reporters in a joint news conference with Prime Minister Naji al-Otari of Syria after ministers from both countries held a meeting to build on already thriving cooperation.

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"We are concerned that US efforts to start direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians were left unsolved due to Israel's intransigence," Erdogan said. "Under these conditions, the international community and countries of the region must engage in more intense efforts for a peace opening."

US officials said earlier this month that they had abandoned efforts to get Israel to reinstate a settlement construction slowdown in the West Bank, concluding that was not the best way to restart the talks. The Palestinians have said they would not resume negotiations without construction curbs.

Earlier Tuesday, ministers from Turkey and Syria signed several cooperation agreements, including one to combat terrorism, and al-Otari pledged continued support for Turkey in its fight against Kurdish rebels, some of whom are based across the border on Syrian territory.

Turkey and Syria lifted travel visas earlier this year and the two countries' militaries staged joint exercises.



Erdogan said he hoped the close ministerial-level cooperation between Turkey and Syria, and a similar one between Turkey and Iraq would expand to other countries in the Middle East.

"Our final goal is for the peace and friendship to expand to the whole region wave by wave," Erdogan said.

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