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Erdogan: Going Ahead with Gaza Visit

"There is no question of delaying this trip," Erdogan said on Turkish television.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 4/23/2013, 2:25 PM

Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Flash 90

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday said he would go ahead with a scheduled trip to Gaza in May despite US calls to delay the visit, AFP reported.

"There is no question of delaying this trip," Erdogan said on Turkish television.

Washington had urged Erdogan to postpone visiting the impoverished Palestinian territory, saying it would be a "distraction" from US efforts to revive the moribund Middle East peace process.

Erdogan stressed the exact date for his Gaza visit would be set after he visits US President Barack Obama at the White House on May 16.

During a trip to Istanbul over the weekend, US Secretary of State John Kerry said the trip would be "better delayed," urging Erdogan to wait for the "right circumstances".

"It was our feeling in a constructive way that we thought that the timing of it is really critical with respect to the peace process that we're trying to get off the ground," emphasized Kerry.

Erdogan hit back at Kerry's comments in no uncertain terms, saying: "We wish he had not said that."

On Monday, Ankara expressed its dismay with Kerry's comments.

Kerry's statement "is not correct diplomatically," Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc told reporters.

"It is up to our government to decide where our prime minister or a Turkish official will go and when."