20 Apr 2024, 09:55

Hamas chief Haniyeh arrives in Turkey for talks

ISTANBUL, April 20, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - A leader of Palestinian group Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, arrived in Istanbul Friday evening for talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as the death toll in Gaza passed 34,000.
   A statement from Hamas Friday said Erdogan and Haniyeh would discuss the conflict in Gaza, adding that the head of the group's political bureau was accompanied by a delegation.
   Middle East tensions are at a high after Israel's reported attack on Iran and Gaza bracing for a new Israeli offensive.
   Erdogan insisted on Wednesday that he would continue "to defend the Palestinian struggle and to be the voice of the oppressed Palestinian people".
   But talking to journalists on Friday, he refused to be drawn on the details on the meeting.
   Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan was in Qatar Wednesday and said he spent three hours with Haniyeh and his aides for "a wide exchange of views in particular about negotiations for a ceasefire".
   Qatar, a mediator between Israel and Hamas, acknowledged Wednesday that negotiations to end hostilities in Gaza and liberate hostages were "stalling".
   Fidan said he spoke with Haniyeh, who lives in Qatar, about how Hamas -- designated as a terrorist organisation by Israel, the United States and the European Union -- "must clearly express its expectations, especially about a two-state solution".
   Erdogan's last meeting with Haniyeh was in July 2023 when Erdogan hosted him and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas at the presidential palace in Ankara. Haniyeh had last met Fidan in Turkey on January 2.
   The war in Gaza started after Hamas's unprecedented attack on Israel on October 7 that resulted in the deaths of about 1,170 people, mainly civilians, according to an AFP tally of official Israeli figures.
   Hamas also took about 250 hostages. Israel says around 129 are believed to be held in Gaza, including 34 presumed dead.
   Israel's retaliatory military campaign has killed at least 34,012 people, mostly women and children, according to Gaza's Hamas-run health ministry.

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