US envoy Mitchell: Turkey has unique role in Mideast peace

US Middle East special envoy George Mitchell said Thursday that predominantly Muslim Turkey's friendship with Israel gives it a unique opportunity to help achieve peace in the Middle East. Mitchell's remarks reflect the US desire to see Turkey and Israel maintain close relations despite a dispute between the two US allies after Turkey accused Israel of using excessive force in an offensive against Hamas. "As an important democratic nation with strong relations with Israel, [Turkey] has a unique role to play and can have significant influence on our efforts to promote comprehensive peace in the Middle East," Mitchell said after meeting Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.