Turkish PM Meets Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt

Posted September 14th, 2011 at 1:35 pm (UTC-5)
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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke with leaders of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood Wednesday after receiving a hero's welcome from Egyptians for his pro-Palestinian stand.

Mr. Erdogan's political party has Islamist roots and its election success has served as a model for Egyptian political groups like the Muslim Brotherhood as Egypt prepares for free, democratic elections.

Cheering crowds have greeted Mr. Erdogan in Cairo. Some Egyptians told reporters they approve of his strong stance against Israel for its refusal to apologize for a raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla that killed nine Turkish citizens last year.

They also approve of his push to support recognition of a Palestinian state by the United Nations. The Turkish prime minister told Arab League representatives in Cairo Tuesday that it is time to “raise the Palestinian flag” in the U.N.

Mr. Erdogan's four-day diplomatic visit to North Africa is aimed at expanding Turkey's growing influence in a region full of political upheaval.

He goes next to Tunisia, and is expected to meet with the head of Libya's National Transitional Council on Thursday.

Some in Israel have expressed concern that Mr. Erdogan's “Arab Spring” diplomatic tour will stoke anti-Israel tensions, as Turkish-Israeli relations have hit new lows.

The two countries have been in a dispute over Turkey's demand for an apology for Israel's deadly raid on a Gaza-bound Turkish aid ship last year. Turkey recently expelled the Israeli ambassador and other top diplomats from Ankara, and has suspended military trade and cooperation with Israel.

Israel also is involved in a diplomatic rift with Egypt, where protesters burst into the Israeli embassy on Friday, prompting the evacuation of Israeli personnel. Relations have been tense since Israeli forces killed five Egyptian police officers last month along the Israel-Egypt border while responding to a cross-border militant raid that killed eight Israelis.