The Turkish prime minister met with Palestinian leaders Monday in the West Bank. Turkey hopes to play a greater role in the Middle East peace process.
|Recep Tayyip Erdogan (left) with Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas|
Mr. Erdogan is the latest in a growing list of world leaders who have visited the region since Mr. Arafat's death, each hoping to play a role in ending four-and-a-half years of conflict.
"We are ready to do whatever is required to achieve peace," Mr. Erdogan told a joint news conference with Mr. Abbas.
The Turkish prime minister believes his country could be an effective mediator. Though Turkey is a predominantly Muslim nation, it enjoys warm relations with both Israel and the Palestinians. Economic and military ties with Israel got a boost on Sunday, when Mr. Erdogan met with Israeli leaders, and signed a cooperation agreement.
Mr. Abbas said a Turkish role is acceptable to the Palestinians and Israel. "I can imagine that if negotiations are sponsored by Turkey, they would be successful," he said.
In a gesture to the Palestinians, Turkey gave the Palestinian Authority the title deeds to property in the West Bank and Gaza acquired during the nearly 400-year rule of the Ottoman Empire. A Turkish newspaper said the deeds would help the Palestinians defend their rights in local and international courts. Turkey also plans to provide 25,000 uniforms to the Palestinian police force.