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Hamas chief Haniyeh to visit Turkey this weekend: Erdogan

Hamas leader Haniyeh visits Iran: state media
Source: Video Screenshot

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday he would host a leader of Palestinian militant group Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, in Turkey this weekend.

“The leader of the Palestinian cause will be my guest this weekend,” Erdogan, an outspoken critic of Israel’s conflict in Gaza, told lawmakers.

“Even if only I, Tayyip Erdogan, remain, I will continue as long as God gives me my life, to defend the Palestinian struggle and to be the voice of the oppressed Palestinian people,” the president said, calling Hamas a “resistance group”.

While Erdogan did not say where he would meet the Hamas political leader, NTV television reported that they would hold talks on Saturday at the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul.

Their last meeting was in July 2023 when Erdogan hosted Haniyeh and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas at the presidential palace in Ankara.

But Haniyeh met Turkey’s Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan in Turkey on January 2, the government said.

Erdogan has been one of the strongest critics of Israel since the start of the Gaza war, sparked by the militant group’s attack on Israel on October 7, 2023.

The attack claimed 1,170 lives, mostly civilians, according to Israeli figures. Hamas also seized hostages, many of whom are believed to be still in Gaza.

Israel has responded with a ground and air offensive that the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said has killed at least 33,899 people, mostly women and children.

Qatar, a mediator between Israel and Hamas, acknowledged Wednesday that negotiations to cease hostilities in Gaza and liberate hostages were “stalling”.

– Erdogan to visit Iraq –

The Turkish leader has forged friendly ties with Haniyeh, who is based in Qatar.

Last week, Erdogan offered Haniyeh, 62, condolences for the death of his three sons and some of his grandchildren in an Israeli strike in Gaza.

Erdogan has called Israel a “terrorist state” and accused it of conducting a “genocide” in Gaza. He has called Hamas “liberators” or “mujahideen” fighting for their land.

Also on Wednesday, Turkey’s Defence Minister Yasar Guler announced that Erdogan would visit Iraq on Monday, confirming an earlier announcement that had not given a date.

The two countries may sign a strategic agreement, he added, without elaborating.

Erdogan said on Tuesday that he would soon be visiting Baghdad, with a possible stopover in Arbil, capital of the oil-rich autonomous Kurdistan region in the north of the country.

Turkey regularly carries out military operations over the border into Iraq’s Kurdistan region in pursuit of fighters from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

This will be Erdogan’s first visit to Iraq since 2011.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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