Turkey’s PM Urges Barak, Arafat to Start Talks
Turkish Prime Minister, Bulent Ecevit sent Tuesday letters to his Israeli counterpart Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, urging them to start talks to quell violence in the Middle East, his office announced.
"The leadership qualities of both of you constitute a historical opportunity to secure peace in our region," Ecevit said in his message, released in a statement by his office.
"I am confident that together you can avert a terrible disaster ... I hope you will come together as soon as possible and stop the violence without wasting time," he added.
Predominantly Muslim Turkey has friendly ties with both Israel and the Palestinians.
Ecevit's letters followed a series of telephone talks that Turkish Foreign Minister, Ismail Cem, had with Israeli, Palestinian, Syrian and Jordanian leaders on Sunday and Monday.
Cem also had talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa in Ankara on Sunday.
Turkey has been Israel's main regional ally since 1996, when the two signed a military cooperation deal, sharply criticized by Iran and most Arab nations.
But it also has a friendly relationship with the Palestinians, with whom it maintains close diplomatic ties – ANKARA (AFP)
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