Sunday, September 4, 2011

'Turkey's Erdogan to visit Egypt, may cross into Gaza'

Jerusalem Post
Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi

Turkish president reportedly set to meet with Tantawi, other Egyptian officials to strengthen relations between the two countries.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will pay a two-day visit to Egypt beginning September 12 and may subsequently cross the border into the Gaza Strip, the Qatar News Agency reported on Sunday.

QNA quoted Turkish Deputy Premier Bulent Arinc as saying in a statement on Sunday that Erdogan was scheduled to meet with the head of Egypt's ruling military council, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi and other leading Egyptian politicians and intellectuals during the visit.

Arinc stated that the visit was expected to produce important decisions reflecting the strength of relations between Turkey and Egypt. He added that Turkey hopes for reforms and elections in Egypt to proceed in accordance with the will of the people.

The Turkish deputy prime minister said that Erdogan would possibly cross into Gaza at the Rafah crossing after making arrangements with the relevant Egyptian authorities.

The announcement came as diplomatic relations between Turkey and Israel were severely strained following the release of the Palmer Commission report on the raid of the Mavi Marmara and Israel's refusal to answer Ankara's insistence that it issue an apology for the incident.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told Turkish television on Saturday that Ankara would apply to the International Court of Justice next week for an “investigation into what the Gaza blockade really is.”

This was one of five actions Davutoglu announced at a press conference on Friday, even before the Palmer Report was presented to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, based on a leak of the complete report that vindicated Israel’s blockade but faulted the IDF for unreasonable and excessive force, even though it acknowledged Israel Navy sailors came up against strong, pre-meditated resistance by those on board the Mavi Marmara on May 31, 2010.

At his press conference, Davutoglu announced Ankara was expelling Israel’s ambassador, and freezing all military agreements. He also said Turkey would take measures for freedom of maritime movement in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, no longer recognizing the Gaza blockade, and support “flotilla victims” who take the matter to court.

Israel has also recently experienced tension in its relations with Egypt following the deaths of five Egyptian soldiers during a firefight between the IDF and terrorists during last month's Eilat terror attacks.

The incident led to a four-day demonstration outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo, where Egyptian protesters demanded the peace treaty with Israel be annulled.

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