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    Hamas receives not a rendez-vous, but a set of commands

    Hürriyet Haber
    17.02.2006 - 11:05 | Son Güncelleme:

    The visit to Ankara by Hamas members has turned into a diplomatic puzzle. Arriving in the Turkish capital yesterday from the Syrian capital of Damascus, Hamas delegation members expected an appointment with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but were not given one.

    Meetings took place instead in the ruling Justice and Development (AKP) Party's headquarters with party Deputy Leader Dengir Mir Mehmet Firat. The Hamas group, headed up by Halit Meshaal, was also joined at the last minute by Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, whom prime ministerial spokepeople stressed was not in attendance at the meetings in his official capacity as foreign minister, but as an AKP representative. Reaction to the Hamas visit to Ankara, during which the ruling AKP was expected to deliver a series of warnings and conditions to the new Palestinian leadership, appeared not to please Israel.
    Israeli FM Livni expresses displeasure later
    The Hamas visit was explained by the Turkish side as occuring not after a Turkish invitation, but following a request by Hamas which was not turned down by Ankara. Meanwhile, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said "Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul told me three days ago about this visit," saving her stronger reaction for later.
    Meeting at the AKP General Headquarters in Ankara, Gul and Firat gave this general message to the Hamas delegation:
    *****Hamas must recognize Israel's legitimate right to exist.
    *****Don't enter into cooperative efforts with more radical groups through the Middle East.
    *****Hamas must reject violence, and give up its weaponed stance.
    *****Hamas must stick to the democracy which brought them into power.
    According to sources in Ankara, the potential visit by Hamas had been being discussed within the government for awhile, following the inital request by Hamas to visit. Negative reaction from the US and Israel were the main reason that the AKP did everything it could to keep the visit from transpiring on an official level. Meanwhile, sources also say that many high level Turkish official within the Foreign Affairs Ministry were made very uncomfortable by the Hamas visit. Many of the diplomats in the capital heard about the Hamas visit only at the very last minute yesterday morning, and were put into a difficult spot, having repeatedly said earlier that "there would be talk even of a Hamas visit to Turkey."
    Interestingly, the Hamas delegation was met by one one from the Turkish Foreign Affairs Ministry on their arrival at Ankara's Esenboga Airport. They went straight to Ankara's Metropolitan Hotel, and afterwards to the State Guest House, where they had lunch before meetings.
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