Arab-Turkish forum starts today

The third session of the Turkish-Arab forum began today in Istanbul, headed by Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and attended by foreign ministers from all Arab League member states.

The forum has gained a sense of urgency in light of Israel’s recent assault on the Turkish Mavi Marmara ship off the coast of Gaza last week.

An official source at the Arab League revealed that both Turkey and Arab states have canceled cultural events, previously schdueled to take place on the sidelines of the forum, in solidarity for the ship’s victims.

Sources also reported that attendees will discuss lifting the blockade Israel has imposed on the Gaza Strip, as well as spearhead an international campaign to condemn Israel for the killing of nine activists in the attack, and push for an inquiry into the incident.

The Turkish prime minister is expected to take part in the forum’s opening, along with a number of Arab officials including Lebanese Prime Minister Saad el-Hariri.

Coordination meetings were held yesterday between high ranking Arab officials, the Turkish foreign ministry, and Moussa. A joint draft statement is supposed to be issued at the end of the forum, rejecting the Israel’s recent naval assault.

The Arab and Turkish sides will reaffirm their joint goal of achieving security and stability in the Middle East, and for a comprehensive solution for the Arab-Israeli conflict. They will also stress that Palestinian-Israeli negotiations require a complete halt in Israeli settlement expansion inside the green line, including in East Jerusalem, and the categorical rejection of any partial or temporary solutions. The two sides also aim to focus on the necessity of Palestinian national reconciliation.

Other issues on the summit agenda include nuclear proliferation, with a particular focus on Iran.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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