Erdo?an to attend Lebanon summit with Qatari, Syrian leaders

ANKARA

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davuto?lu had talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki during his visit to Baghdad.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an will travel to Damascus today to discuss with Syrian and Qatari leaders how to help prevent Lebanon from sliding further into crisis, Foreign Ministry spokesman Selçuk Ünal announced on Sunday.
Ünal told the Anatolia news agency that Prime Minister Erdo?an will meet Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davuto?lu, who was on an official visit to Baghdad on Sunday, is also scheduled to be in Syria for the meeting.
The 14-month-old unity government of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri collapsed on Wednesday after ministers from the Hezbullah movement and its allies quit the cabinet. Hariri visited Ankara on Friday to seek support from the Turkish prime minister and is set to begin formal negotiations to form a new government in Lebanon on Monday.
Turkey, like other countries in the region, fears instability in Lebanon could have consequences in the wider region. As of Saturday night, Erdo?an had held separate telephone conversations on the issue with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Saudi King Abdullah and Qatari Emir al-Thani, his press office announced, while noting that similar contacts by Erdo?an would continue.

In Baghdad, Davuto?lu also held separate conversations on the Lebanon crisis with senior officials from Qatar and Syria. On Friday, following talks with Hariri, Erdo?an told reporters that Ankara has been planning to organize “a series of meetings to be attended by the US, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt.”

It was not immediately clear whether all the countries mentioned by Erdo?an would support the initiative. Political sources in Beirut said that Washington had rejected an earlier French proposal for regional talks.

In Tehran, the ISNA news agency reported that Ahmadinejad and Erdo?an, during their conversations, called for an emergency decision to be made without taking into account political considerations and foreigners’ interference.

“The Zionist regime seeks to make use of the current situation in Lebanon to harm the nation. A solution should be found for Lebanon’s problems,” Ahmadinejad was quoted by ISNA as saying.

“Regional stability is related to that of Lebanon. Iran, Turkey, as well as other regional nations, can play a role in managing Lebanon’s crisis,” Erdo?an was quoted by ISNA as telling the Iranian leader.

Davuto?lu’s visit to Baghdad, during which he held preparatory talks with Iraqi officials for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an’s upcoming visit to the same country, was originally planned to be longer, with the minister not only to visit Baghdad, but also the disputed city of Kirkuk, which is situated on top of some of Iraq’s largest oil reserves, and Najaf and Karbala, which are both Shiite Muslim shrine cities.

Yet, apparently due to the emergency situation in Lebanon, the visit was cut short to just one day. Still, Ankara maintains that the visit has shown Turkey’s support for Iraq both to the region and the entire world in the most visible way following the formation of the new government.

Davuto?lu displays support for new Iraqi government

Davuto?lu and the accompanying delegation first held a meeting led by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki upon their arrival in the Iraqi capital early Sunday morning. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and the Iraqi government spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, also attended the meeting led by Davuto?lu and Maliki, Anatolia reported.

The Turkish foreign minister held a closed-door meeting with Turkmen members of the Iraqi parliament at the Turkish Embassy, Anatolia said. Turhan Hasan Müftü, of the Iraqi Turkmen Front (which participated in the elections as part of the Al Iraqiyya coalition), and who is now the state minister of provinces in the Maliki government, also attended the meeting.

Later in the day, Davuto?lu was expected to hold separate meetings with President Jalal Talabani; Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi; head of the Islamic Supreme Council, Ammar Al Hakim; head of Iraqi National Coalition, Ibrahim Jafari; and Al Iraqiyya leader Iyad Allawi.


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