US top diplomat to visit Turkey this weekend

US top diplomat to visit Turkey this weekend

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
US top diplomat to visit Turkey this weekend

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at a news conference. AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will visit Turkey for the second time in less than two months following a U.S.-brokered Israeli apology for a deadly flotilla raid in 2010.

As part of his trip to Western Europe and the Middle East, Kerry will hold talks with Turkish officials in Istanbul on April 7, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told reporters at a joint press conference with Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for the EU April 3.

Davutoğlu also said that his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov will visit Turkey on April 17. Lavrov and Davutoğlu will have talks for joint working group meeting, according to Turkish diplomatic sources. Turkish-Russian dialogue over Syria intensified following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Turkey on Dec. 3.

On the heels of U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to the region in March, Kerry stepped up for shuttle diplomacy between Israel and Palestine in an effort to find a formula that would allow both sides to agree to direct talks.

The Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, agreed to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu only on the condition that he would release 120 Palestinians.

The normalization of ties between Turkey and Israel, after Netanyahu offered the apology, is expected to be high on the agenda of talks between Kerry and Minister Davutoğlu, since a rapprochement of the former allies could help regional cooperation to contain spill-over effects from the Syrian crisis.

Davutoğlu said they would also talk about the reconciliation process between Al-Fatah and Hamas, citing his recent meeting with Abbas in Qatar.

Davutoğlu and Kerry will discuss details of a visit by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Washington in mid-May, a Turkish official told the Hürriyet Daily News.

The Cyprus dispute will be another issue of the talks with the U.S. Secretary of State as Turkey seeks to revive negotiations between Turkish and Greek Cypriots. Davutoğlu discussed the issue with his U.S. counterpart during two recent phone conversations. “There is a new window of opportunity,” Davutoğlu said adding that Turkey was ready to contribute for steps to be taken on the Cyprus issue.

Ashton, for her part, welcomed the normalization process between Turkey and Israel and said that it could contribute to the Middle East peace process.

Kerry to meet Abbas Sunday in Jordan: Palestinian source

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories - Agence France-Presse

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas is to meet on Sunday in Amman with US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is pushing for a renewal of peace talks, a Palestinian official said.

 "US Secretary of State John Kerry will meet with president Abbas next Sunday in Amman," he told AFP on Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity. After meeting Kerry, Abbas would on Monday travel to Qatar for a meeting of the Arab Peace Initiative committee for talks likely to focus on US efforts to revive the stalled peace process, the official said.