U.S. opposes visit to Gaza by Turkish PM
The United States on Friday voiced opposition to a planned visit to Gaza by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, calling it a move that undermines peace and security in the region, Xinhua reported.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that Hamas, which seized power in Gaza in 2007, remains "a destabilizing force " in the strip and the region.
"We oppose engagement with Hamas," she told reporters at a regular news briefing. "Visits of this kind are not conducive to advancing the cause of peace and security in the region. Instead, we urge all parties to play a constructive role in bringing the parties together."
Erdogan was quoted as saying on Friday that he intended to visit Gaza and would set a date for his trip with the Hamas leadership. He also welcomed the recent visit to Gaza by emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani.
The emir's trip on Oct. 23, which the U.S. said was unhelpful, made him the first head of state to visit Gaza since 2007.
Nuland said Washington would have conversations with Turkey, a NATO ally, to "try to get a better understanding of what's intended " in the planned trip.
Gaza remains under Israel's blockade, and an Israeli raid on a Turkish aid ship trying to break the blockade in 2009 strained relations between Turkey and Israel, as the assault killed nine Turkish activists.
The U.S. and Israel see Hamas as a terrorist organization.