Sleiman ends Turkey visit with call for Mideast peace effort

Posted in Broader Middle East | 23-Apr-09 | Source: Daily Star

Lebanon's President Michel Suleiman (L) meets with his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul at the Presidential Palace of Cankaya in Ankara April 21, 2009.

BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman stressed on Tuesday the need for a serious process to speed up the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the summer 2006 war with Israel, "in order to promote security and stability in Lebanon and the region."

Sleiman returned to Beirut on Wednesday after making the visit to Ankara by a Lebanese president since 1957.

In a joint press conference with Turkish President Abdullah Gul, Sleiman called for finding necessary practical means for reviving the Middle East peace process based on legitimate international resolutions. He referred to the 1991 Madrid peace conference and the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative as major references for the process.

Both presidents discussed means for improving bilateral military cooperation, including counter-terrorism and organized crime.

President Gul paid tribute to Turkish-Lebanese relations adding that his country is to send monitors to the June 7 parliamentary elections.

"In no time Lebanon succeeded in healing its wounds and has made much progress on the road to achieving peace and stability," Gul said.

Sleiman held talks with Turkish Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who praised Sleiman's step toward Syria leading to an exchange of ambassadors saying: "this visit has positively motivated the peace process."

On Tuesday, Turkey's president promised greater military, humanitarian and trade ties with Lebanon.

Gul announced the plans after meeting with Lebanese President Michel Sleiman.

Turkey has been participating in the Lebanon peacekeeping force since the devastating summer 2006 war with Israel.

"We have been extending serious contributions to Lebanon, both military and civilian," Gul told a joint news conference with Sleiman. "Our humanitarian efforts are especially focusing on education and health."

Turkish President Celal Bayar visited Lebanon in 1955 and there have been no official mutual visits by heads of state since then, the Foreign Ministry said.

The leaders oversaw the signing of several cooperation agreements, including military training, and stressed determination to expand trade ties.

Gul said they discussed Turkey's efforts to mediate peace in the Middle East and called on Israel to focus on resolving the conflict with Palestinians. Sleiman called for a consensus between Palestinian factions, saying this "would strengthen the peace process."

Turkey, a friend of Israel in the Muslim world, has tried to mediate between Palestinians and the Jewish state.