Turkish president to visit Egypt for Mideast, Iraq talks

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ANKARA: Turkish President Abdullah Gul will visit Egypt next week for talks on the faltering Middle East peace process and strife-torn Iraq, his office said Saturday.

During the Jan. 14-16 visit, Gul will hold talks with President Hosni Mubarak and other senior officials in Cairo and also visit the port city of Alexandria, the statement said.

Israel and the Palestinians agreed in November to relaunch negotiations after a seven-year freeze, but the talks have since faltered amid Palestinian anger over Jewish settlement expansion and continuing Israeli-Palestinian violence.

Mainly Muslim secular Turkey is Israel s main regional ally but also enjoys warm relations with the Palestinians and supports their claims for statehood.

Even though its close ties with Israel have often irked Arab countries, Ankara believes it is in a good position to mediate in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Turkey and Egypt are also engaged in a dialogue over Iraq and agree that its territorial integrity must be preserved. -AFP

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