Turkish PM meets Mashaal in surprise visit

Turkish PM meets Mashaal in surprise visit

Turkish PM meets Mashaal in surprise visit

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. AFP Photo

Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal made a surprise visit to Ankara on July 24, meeting with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for a fast-breaking dinner during which the pair discussed the deadlocked reconciliation process between Palestine’s Hamas and Fatah factions.

The visit, which was not on Erdoğan’s official schedule, followed Mashaal’s talks in Cairo with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on July 19. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, National Intelligence Organization (MİT) chief Hakan Fidan and Erdoğan’s top foreign policy adviser, İbrahim Kalın, all attended the lengthy dinner, which took from three to five hours.

Egypt, meanwhile, announced yesterday that it had eased travel embargos on Gaza and allowed freer temporary entry for Palestinians living in Gaza, ending part of a five-year blockade on the Gaza Strip.

Cairo made the decision after Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organization by the United States, Israel and the European Union, called on it earlier this month to open its border with the Gaza Strip to allow commercial trade.

The decision means Palestinians can now freely leave the besieged strip. Syria has long allowed Hamas to operate offices in Damascus, but Mashaal and other officials with the political bureau are believed to have quietly left the Syrian capital.

In January, Gaza’s Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, visited Erdoğan at his Istanbul home.

On May 20, Palestinian rivals Hamas and Fatah agreed on a new timetable for a power-sharing deal that envisions elections in about six months, officials from both sides said.