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Today's Zaman

Erdoğan discusses Syrian crisis with Qatari emir

29 January 2013, Tuesday /TODAY'S ZAMAN, ANKARA
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan paid a one-day working visit to Qatar on Tuesday to meet with Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani and discuss the latest developments in the region, particularly with regard to the Syrian crisis.

Prior to his meeting with the emir, Erdoğan, accompanied by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yıldız, met with Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jasim bin Jabir Al Thani.

Erdoğan's wife, Emine Erdoğan, and daughter Sümeyye Erdoğan also accompanied him to Doha.

The Syrian crisis, including problems experienced by Syrian refugees and assistance from the international community; the Israeli-Palestinian issue; and recent developments in North Africa, particularly Egypt's efforts towards development and prosperity, were on the agenda of the meetings.

Turkey and Qatar have adopted a similar stance regarding the Syrian conflict in the diplomatic sphere. They are the two countries most staunchly seeking the fall of President Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria. Both countries have previously hosted a series of meetings to find a solution for the 22-month Syrian crisis.

Damascus accuses foreign powers -- including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and neighboring Turkey -- of supporting Syrian opposition forces struggling to topple Assad and of destroying the stability in Syria and meddling in its internal affairs.

In addition to the Syrian crisis, both sides reviewed the state of bilateral relations between them and discussed opportunities to boost cooperation in the economy, trade, energy and in terms of culture at the meetings.

Erdoğan and Qatari officials assessed joint steps being taken to help Syrians flee the ongoing civil war in their country and seek refuge in neighboring countries.

In the first six months of 2012, humanitarian agencies appealed for $1 billion of international assistance for Syrian refugees living in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt and Turkey. Ankara has received $33 million in aid so far.

After arriving in Qatar, Erdoğan first met with world-famous Turkish rally driver Burcu Çetinkaya and co-driver Özlem Akgüç. Çetinkaya and Akgüç placed first in the women's division of the Qatar International Rally and fifth in the new Group N race, which took place on Jan. 25-26.

Erdoğan congratulated both drivers. Later on, he took a look at the team's car and learned about the rally and racing from Çetinkaya.

Erdoğan meets with Greek PM

Meanwhile, Erdoğan, accompanied by Davutoğlu, had an unscheduled meeting with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in Doha.

Turkey has recently expressed disappointment over what it calls Greece's “oppressive” policies against the Turkish community in the country as Athens has rehashed a controversial bill, popularly known as the “imam law,” that would allow the central government to appoint imams to schools and mosques despite the objection of the Turkish minority in Western Thrace.

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