Israeli, Palestinian presidents meet in Turkey
( AP ) - Israeli and Palestinian presidents met here on Tuesday, before a Middle East conference this month aimed at relaunching peace negotiations between the two sides which broke down amid violence seven years ago.
Israeli President Shimon Peres said Monday he believed Israel could now make peace with Palestinians and said his country was determined to make the U.S.-sponsored peace negotiations in Annapolis, Maryland, at the end of this month a success.
"I believe we can make peace now with Palestinians and all countries that are on the side of peace," Peres said, while adding that it might not happen quickly. ?It takes time to make peace."
Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gathered at Turkey's presidential palace for talks on establishing an industrial park in the West Bank, aimed at generating jobs for thousands of Palestinians.
The two leaders will later separately address Turkey's Parliament. Peres will become the first Israeli president to speak before the legislature of a Muslim country while Abbas will become the first Palestinian president to address the Turkish Parliament. Turkey's President Abdullah Gul Monday expressed hope that the Annapolis talks yield ?concrete results," and said Syria should be invited to participate.
Peres welcomed the participation of all ?moderate countries," saying ?the voice of peace will be stronger and louder" with more participants attending. But he accused Syria of not taking steps for peace.
Syria has belittled the talks, with Syria's ambassador to the U.S., Imad Moustapha, last week calling them a "waste" and a ?photo opportunity."
Turkey, a NATO member and Israel's closest ally in the Islamic world, has in the past played the role of mediator between the Jewish state and its Muslim neighbours.