Turkey urges Obama to redefine Mideast terrorism in video message

Turkey urges Obama to redefine Mideast terrorism in video message

Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan urged U.S. President Barack Obama in a video message on Thursday to redefine terror and terrorism in the Middle East and use it as the basis for a new American policy.

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"President Obama must redefine terror and terrorist organizations in the Middle East, and based on this new definition, a new American policy must be deployed in the Middle East," Erdogan said in the video message to be published on YouTube at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.


The Turkish prime minister appeared to be referring to the U.S. position toward Hamas and Hezbollah, which the United States considers terrorist organizations.


While both have military wings, Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007 and remains in charge following the recent Israeli invasion. Hezbollah is a major political force in Lebanon. 


Alluding to Turkey's unique position, Erdogan prefaced his message to Obama, saying that "compared to the Western countries, we speak best the language of the Middle East."

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Erdogan, whose country has played a key role in trying to mediate among Israel and Syria and the Palestinians, also told reporters in Davos that Obama's new Mideast envoy, George Mitchell, will be in Turkey for talks Sunday.


The Turkish prime minister said he was ready to resume efforts to mediate between Israel and Syria.


However, he also expressed anger at Israel for launching its December 27 offensive into Gaza just as Turkey was pursuing contacts between Israel and the Damascus government.


"I saw this as a lack of respect for us," he was quoted by AFP as saying. Erdogan repeated that Turkey believes Israel, an ally in the Middle East, used "disproportionate" force in the Gaza conflict.


Erdogan said Turkey had learned through struggle against PKK terrorists that terrorism is not just a security problem.


"We see that there is a diplomatic side, a social-economic side and a psychological side. So we must adopt a very comprehensive approach in order to find ways to to fight terrorism.


"It is for this reason that we are trying to work with various countries in the region. Every country needs to evaluate for itself what it needs to do.


"We have to fully understand and analyse the terrorist who is a citizen in our country and the terrorist who is in another country. Because terrorism does not recognise borders, has no religion or creed, one cannot approach the problem by saying my terrorist is fine and yours is not," AFP quoted him as saying.

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