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Turkish PM Calls for Increased Cooperation with Arab Nations

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, center, shakes hands with Kuwait's Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammed Al Ahmed Al Sabah, (l) and deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs, Sheikh Ahmad Fahad Al Sabah (r) in Kuwait City, 11 Jan 2011

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged Arab nations to put aside differences that have strained relations with Ankara and work on boosting cooperation.

He commented Tuesday at a conference on Arab-Turkish relations in Kuwait.

Mr. Erdogan said "Arabs are our brothers," in spite of recent criticism from Arab nations against some Turkish policies and Turkey's criticisms of human rights conditions in Iraq and the Palestinian territories.

Arab nations are closely watching Turkey's bid to join the European Union. Turkey's semi-official Anatolia news agency quotes Mr. Erdogan as saying that Ankara will determine its foreign policy regardless of criticisms.

Mr. Erdogan is leading a Turkish delegation that is working on boosting economic and political ties in the region.

Meanwhile, Kuwait's KUNA news agency says conference participants have called for backing international efforts aimed at recognition of a Palestinian state, based on borders established before the 1967 Mideast war.

The news agency also says the conference welcomed Turkey's efforts to help mediate Iran's nuclear dispute with members of the international community.

Later this month, Turkey hosts a meeting between Iran and world powers that include the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany, a group known as the P5 + 1. The U.N. has imposed several rounds of sanctions on Tehran because of its refusal to stop enriching uranium.