Egypt's Morsi to discuss Syria in Turkey visit
CAIRO - Agence France-Presse
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. AFP PhotoEgypt's Islamist President Mohamed Morsi will travel to Turkey on Sunday for discussions expected to focus on the conflict in Syria, state media reported.
Morsi's visit will be his first to Turkey since he became Egypt's first democratically elected civilian president in June.
Ankara and Cairo have repeatedly said that Syria's President Bashar al-Assad must step down in order to bring an end to the 18-month conflict.
Along with Iran and Saudi Arabia, they are both part of a regional "contact group" on Syria established to find ways to halt the bloodshed.
Morsi, who is currently in New York to attend the UN General Assembly, expressed optimism on Monday about the four-nation group's efforts on Syria.
"I am against foreign intervention by force in what happens in Syria," Morsi told PBS television. "I do not condone this and I think that it is a big mistake if it happens," he added through an interpreter.
"Egypt does not agree to this." Morsi, a former senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, said Arab nations should "support the people of Syria in their march toward freedom.
"President Assad has no choice but to leave," Morsi added. "There is no room for political reform. Change is what the people want, and the will of the people must be respected," he added.
During his visit to Turkey, Morsi is also expected to hold talks about the Palestinian issue.
Ankara and Cairo have diplomatic ties with Israel but these links have weakened since the Islamists rose to power in Egypt and Turkey.
Morsi will also attend on Sunday the annual meeting of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the website of Egyptian government daily, Al-Akhbar, reported.
Egyptian Finance Minister Momtaz al-Saeed said in mid-September that Turkey would offer a $2 billion aid package to Egypt to fund infrastructure projects.