Turkish leader: Israel is Mideast’s biggest threat

Turkish leader: Israel is Mideast’s biggest threat

JERUSALEM — Turkey’s prime minister called Israel the main threat to Middle East peace.

The remarks by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, made to reporters in Paris, came in the course of a two-day official visit to France that began on Tuesday. Erdogan made several comments of note to Israel in France, including referring to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as his “dear friend” in an interview with Le Figaro. The prime minister also said that diplomacy, not sanctions, is the only way to solve the current crisis over Iran’s nuclear program.

Earlier in the week, Erdogan said that Turkey would come to the defense of Muslims around the world, according to a report by CNN-Turk. “We cannot be indifferent to the problems of the Islamic world of Jerusalem,” Erdogan reportedly said Monday at a ceremony to mark the opening of an Arabic-language television and radio company. “Our task is the integration with the Western world but we did not turn our back to the East,” he continued. “Arabs and Turks are brothers and we share the same values.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry responded to Erdogan’s statements Monday, saying it is not interested in confrontation with Turkey. “The impression that is being created is that the Turkish prime minister is seeking to integrate with the Muslim world at Israel’s expense,” read a ministry statement.