Mashaal heading Hamas delegation to Turkey
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Mashaal heading Hamas delegation to Turkey

Islamist chief to meet with Erdogan

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, and Palestinian Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal seen during the congress of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party in Ankara, Turkey, Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012 (AP/Kayhan Ozer)
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, and Palestinian Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal seen during the congress of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party in Ankara, Turkey, Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012 (AP/Kayhan Ozer)

A Hamas delegation headed by the group’s political bureau leader, Khaled Mashaal, is to visit Turkey, Osama Hamdan, the terror organization’s official in charge of international relations, said Wednesday.

Hamdan did not specify when the delegation would leave but said the visit would take place soon. He said Mashaal and the group would meet senior Turkish officials in order to discuss the situation of the Palestinians.

Mashaal will meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday, Israel Radio reported.

The Hamas leader met Erdogan last December in Ankara.

Hamas recently denied Israeli reports saying Turkey has expelled Saleh al-Arouri, a senior Hamas official who Israel says is in charge of training terror cells in the West Bank.

In recent months, Mashaal was seen to be bolstering ties with Saudi Arabia and Russia, and drifting away from traditional ally Iran. Meanwhile, its rival, the Palestinian Authority has been working to strengthen ties with the Islamic Republic, with PA President Mahmoud Abbas planning a Tehran visit.

Earlier this month, Mashaal met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Qatar. During the meeting, Lavrov invited him to visit Moscow.

“We would like to see the Palestinians — all of them — have their permanent home,” Lavrov said, according to Russian media reports, adding that Moscow would be working toward that goal.

“We hope that with assistance from Russia and the whole world, this dream will come true,” Mashaal responded.

During the meeting, the two discussed the possibility of reconciliation between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, and what Mashaal termed Israel’s “violation of Christian and Muslim holy sites.”

In July, Mashaal and a delegation of senior Gaza-based Hamas officials arrived in Saudi Arabia for a series of meetings with high-profile diplomats in the monarchy. Mashaal’s visit to the Gulf state was the first of its kind in over three years.

Those meetings came days after a landmark nuclear accord was signed between world powers and Iran, which is considered to be Saudi Arabia’s number-one rival in the region and, separately, has supported Hamas over the years.

More recently, there was been a falling out between Tehran and Gaza City over Hamas’s refusal to support embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad, a key ally of Iran.

Mashaal is an avid supporter of Saudi Arabia, and Hamas has officially expressed its approval of the monarchy’s fight against Iranian-backed Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen.

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