Turkish prime minister attends Arab summit in Riyadh

Turkey Materials 28 March 2007 11:05

( Thenewanatolian ) - Attending an Arab summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia today, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to deliver a keynote speech at the opening session of the gathering.

Erdogan, who is the guest of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz at the summit, is expected to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Turkish sources from the Prime Ministry told The New Anatolian yesterday that Erdogan is expected to express his support for the new Palestinian unity government, a coalition between the Islamist Hamas group and the more moderate Fatah.

The prime minister will hold bilateral talks with a number of leaders on the sidelines of the meetings in Riyadh.

During the two-day summit, Arab leaders will discuss ways of backing the newly formed Palestinian unity government as well as the latest developments in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister suggested Monday that Arab leaders would be willing to consider changes to their 2002 peace offer to Israel to make it "compatible" with new developments.

The statement from Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal came as Arab League foreign ministers convened Monday to prepare for a leaders summit later this week, expected to focus on how to revive Middle East peace efforts. Arab leaders have, until now, publicly rejected Israeli calls for them to make changes to the 2002 Arab peace offer.

"It is expected from us to take notice of new developments, which require additions and developments in whatever is offered for our leaders about the issues and problems -- in order for their resolutions to be compatible with what is dire and new," al-Faisal said.

Arab countries should forge closer military and security ties, including nuclear cooperation, according to a document to be discussed at this week's Arab summit.

It was not immediately clear whether the proposal drawn up by Egypt aims at establishing a formal military pact for the Arab League's 22 member nations.

The document says the countries should set up a "new and effective pact for Arab national security."

The Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal said on Monday that "Arab national security" will top the agenda of the summit, which begins Wednesday in Riyadh.

Al-Faisal said Arabs want to have their own "mechanism" to resolve regional conflicts such as Iraq and Darfur. "Experience has shown that Arabs can solve their problems without foreign intervention," he added.

The Egyptian document said "there is a great need to adopt a comprehensive concept for Arab security in view of the multiple dangers and threats."

It adds the Arab League should prepare plans for "providing defense and security requirements for both supplies and training."

It also urges "a comprehensive review of the nuclear issues in the region" and says member countries should develop their own nuclear strategies. In the past year, several Arab states have expressed interest in developing peaceful exploitation of nuclear power.

At the Arab summit in Khartoum last year, national leaders decided to set up an Arab peace and security council. But so far only four countries have endorsed the agreement, which requires seven members to become active.

In 1950, Arab leaders created the Arab Joint Defense Treaty as part of their efforts to challenge the newly established Israel. The treaty was invoked during the Middle East wars of 1967 and 1973.

If approved, the Egyptian-proposed pact would replace the 1950 treaty.