The US State Department is taking a wary approach to plans by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to visit the Gaza Strip, with a spokesman suggesting Wednesday that Erdogan’s visit not be seen as encouraging Hamas.

Asked whether the State Department would “look favorably” on a joint visit by Erdogan and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to the Gaza Strip for conciliatory talks with Hamas, Acting Deputy Spokesperson Patrick Ventrell answered that the US’s poistion had not changed vis-a-vis the Palestinian enclave.

“You know where we are on this. You know where we are in terms of Hamas, which has not changed, and our opposition to engagement with Hamas,” he said.

He also asked that people who want to help Palestinians do so by working around Hamas and not with the terror organization.

“We share the international community’s deep concern for the welfare of the Palestinian people, including those residing in Gaza. So we again urge all those wishing to provide international humanitarian support to Gaza to do so through established channels to ensure that the Palestinians’ humanitarian needs and Israel’s legitimate security needs are both met.”