Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will endorse a nuclear-free Middle East when he attends next week’s summit on nuclear security issues in Seoul, South Korea, according to Turkish media.
Today’s Zaman, an English language Turkish daily, reported that Erdogan will urge other summit participants to avoid focusing solely on Iran’s nuclear ambitions, given that Israel also is widely believed to possess nuclear weapons.
Moreover, Erdogan’ office said that he will emphasize the right of all nations to develop atomic power for peaceful purposes.
A total of 60 nations will meet in Seoul to discuss ways to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons around the world and to mitigate the threat posed by existing atomic arsenals.
Erdogan is also expected to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama at the Seoul forum to discuss a wide number of subjects related to the Middle East, including Iran’s nuclear program, Israel’s threats against Iran, the conflict in Syria, as well as Turkey’s stance against Kurdish separatists.
After departing Seoul, Erdogan will reportedly fly directly to Tehran to discuss with Iranian officials details of the Korean summit.
Turkey is a member of the international Nuclear Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative – this group of 10 countries, including Australia, Canada, Chile, Germany, Japan and Holland, will meet in Turkey in April.
In addition, yet another international group, the P5+1 countries -- which comprise the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France) plus Germany – will meet in Istanbul next month to discuss Iran’s nuclear program.
Turkey is viewed as a key mediator between Iran and the western world.
A U.S. State Department official said on Wednesday that the planned meeting between Obama and Erdogan reflects their “close dialogue and perfect relations.”