Shimon Peres became the first Israeli head of state to address Turkey's parliament Tuesday when he spoke in Ankara. Speaking optimistically about prospects for peace with the Palestinians, Mr. Peres was joined by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. For VOA, Dorian Jones has this report from the Turkish capital.
Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met in Ankara where they signed an agreement to go ahead with a Turkish plan to open an industrial zone in the West Bank to help the Palestinian economy.
But the real focus of the meeting was to boost trust between the two side ahead of a planned Middle East conference in Annapolis, Maryland, aimed at relaunching peace negotiations between the two sides that broke down amid violence seven years ago. No date has been set for that conference which has been planned for this year.
Turkish president Abdullah Gul, who invited the Israeli and Palestinian leaders for the three-day visit, expressed hope that the talks would yield positive results.
He said he would like to express that the concrete step taken today shows the political will of the presidents of Israel and Palestine prior to the Annapolis meeting in the United States.
Following a meeting with Mr. Peres, President Gul called for Syria to also participate in U.S. summit.
According to analysts, the meeting in Ankara underlines Turkey's strong position as a peace facilitator that enjoys close relations with both the Palestinians and Israelis.
In his address to the Parliament, Mr. Peres called the meeting in Annapolis "a historic opportunity," that should not be missed.
He also voiced support for the two-state solution, which would create an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.
Earlier on Tuesday, Abbas said Israel will live in peace if it ends its occupation of Arab lands. He also said that his administration hoped the talks with Israel would be a success.