Qatar’s prime minister yesterday sought the Turkish government’s support in organizing an international conference for the reconstruction of Gaza.

In Ankara, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met with his Qatari counterpart, Sheikh Hamid bin Casim Cabir el Thani, to talk about Middle East peace.

“We would like to organize an international conference for the reconstruction of Gaza in the shortest period of time and we want Turkish support of this conference,” el Thani said, according to the private CNN-Türk television.

Turkish officials said the venue and date for such an international conference were not yet clear and only said, “Preparations are under way.” El Thani praised Turkey’s sensitivity toward peace in the region and the Gaza issue. For his part, Erdoğan said the government’s efforts for peace would continue. “We consider this conference to be held for the reconstruction of Gaza as very positive.” Foreign Minister Ali Babacan was also present during the meeting of the two prime ministers.

In Saudi Arabia, President Abdullah Gül said the split between Palestinians, namely between al-Fatah and Hamas, was the biggest threat to an independent Palestinian state. He was addressing members of the Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia, also known as the Shura Council, the legislature of the country.

“In the name of Allah,” he said before beginning his remarks praising both Saudi Arabia and King Abdullah.

Gül hailed the efforts of King Abdullah to bring together the parties for reconciliation at a meeting in Mecca, which was also supported by Turkey. “If the promises had been kept and if the Palestinians had continued to embrace one another as they did there (in Mecca) I am sure the Palestinian cause would be stronger now and É the pain we have seen recently would not have happened,” he said.

Gül said he hoped Palestinian groups would reconcile “because the split between the Palestinians is the biggest dynamite threatening on the formation of an independent Palestinian state.”

“Can you imagine two separate Palestines?” he asked. “Everyone should see how shameful it is. Therefore, the primary concern is unity among Palestinians, the entire Arab world and the Islamic world, and to show the ability and responsibility to act together when essential matters are under consideration. I believe that we will realize this after all the pain.”

The president called for measures to stop the pain. “I hope we will work together for unity. Turkey supports Saudi Arabia’s views on this issue,” he said.

Gül also spoke about the incorrect portrayal of Islam due to the activities of some extremist circles. “Unfortunately, when such examples come out, such terrorist incidents are linked with our religion. This deeply concerns all of us. Our religion is a religion of peace, our religion respects people and orders peace. We have nothing to do with terror.”

Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will visit Turkey from Feb. 6 to 8, officials from the Foreign Ministry said.

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