Turkey agrees to join Lebanon contact group

17th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Turkey has agreed to take part in an international "contact group" proposed by France to help Lebanon overcome its political crisis, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday.

"I received an invitation from (French President Nicolas) Sarkozy yesterday and I asked my office to reply favourably," Erdogan told journalists in Istanbul prior to his departure for Damascus for talks on the Lebanon crisis.

In Damascus Erdogan was to meet with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani.

He said no date had yet been proposed for a meeting of the group. Sarkozy's office said in a statement Sunday a meeting would be held "as soon as possible".

Lebanon Prime Minister Saad Hariri's government collapsed last week after the powerful Hezbollah and its allies pulled their ministers from the cabinet.

The move was linked to a long-running dispute over the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which was reportedly set later Monday to indict high-ranking Hezbollah operatives in the 2005 assassination of ex-premier Rafiq Hariri, Saad's father.

Sarkozy has been discussing the crisis with key figures recently including Hariri, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia, the presidents of Syria and Turkey, the emir of Qatar and US President Barack Obama, the French president's office said.

© 2011 AFP

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