Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived for an official two-day visit in Lebanon Wednesday. Referring once again the IDF flotilla raid in May, he called on Israel to "quit its incitement and stop casting a shadow on peace".
"We want peace, justice, calm, and security," Erdogan told his hosts in the presence of reporters. "Turkey will continue to cry out against tyranny and in favor of protection of rights as long as there are people engaging in piracy out at sea. We will protect the innocent, the oppressed, and those whose rights have been squashed."
Erdogan added that Turkey would aspire to protect the rights of the residents of east Jerusalem and Gaza. "Israel must understand that when there is peace and security in the region, it will benefit as well. If there is war, its civilians will be harmed along with the rest of the region's citizens," he said.
The premier's visit took place as tensions continued to rise over accusations against Hezbollah in relation to the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
Meanwhile President Shimon Peres said during a press conference following his meeting with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych that Israel has no conflict with Lebanon.
Peres expressed his hope that Israel's northern neighbor would "overcome its internal difficulties," adding, "Traditional Lebanon is in conflict with Hezbollah, a strange organization that dresses in religious garb while gathering missiles in the service of Iran."
In an interview with As-Safir Wednesday, Erdogan vowed that Turkey would do all in its power to prevent a civil war over the UN tribunal investigating the murder.
"If we see signs of a war coming, we will work with other states in the region to prevent an internal flare-up," he said.
Erdogan with Lebanese president (Photo: AP)
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri welcomed Erdogan at the airport amid an Armenian protest against the visit. The latter also met with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, and is scheduled to meet later with Hezbollah officials.
Erdogan's visit followed a report by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp, which said United Nations investigators and a Lebanese officer had revealed Hezbollah was responsible for the Hariri assassination.
According to the report, the UN International Independent Investigation Commission's findings are based on an elaborate examination of Lebanese phone records. They suggest that Hezbollah men communicated with the owners of cell phones allegedly used to coordinate the detonation that killed Hariri and 22 others in Beirut on February 14, 2005.
CBC uncovered an internal UN document indicating that a top Lebanese intelligence official, Colonel Wissam al-Hassan, was considered by some UN sleuths as a potential suspect in Hariri's murder.
The report brought on a backlash in Lebanon, where al-Hassan is considered to have been a good friend of the Hariri family. Saad Hariri rejected the report and said he believed in al-Hassan's innocence "fully".
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