Netanyahu, Abbas head to China for separate talks

Updated 05 May 2013
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Netanyahu, Abbas head to China for separate talks

BEIJING: China will host Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas next week for separate bilateral talks as it tries to shore up its role in a region where its diplomatic influence is limited.
Netanyahu’s visit — the first trip by a top Israeli leader to China since former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert visited in 2007 — will be focused on trade, though experts have also said he is likely to discuss Iran’s nuclear program with China.
China, Iran’s top oil customer and a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has opposed unilateral sanctions on Tehran such as those imposed by Washington and the European Union and has called repeatedly for talks to resolve the stand-off over Iran’s nuclear program.
Netanyahu is set to arrive tomorrow in China’s commercial capital of Shanghai, where he will meet business leaders, and fly to Beijing after for talks with Chinese leaders. Abbas will arrive in Beijing today.
It is unclear whether Netanyahu and Abbas will meet in China. China’s Foreign Ministry said the country “is willing to offer necessary assistance if the leaders of Palestine and Israel have the will to meet in China.”
China has traditionally had a low profile in Middle East diplomacy, but is keen to assert its role as a key player in international politics. It has tried on and off over the years to mediate in the Israeli-Palestinian issue but with little apparent success.
The visits by Netanyahu and Abbas come nearly a month after US Secretary of State John Kerry and Abbas discussed reviving Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Beijing has maintained close relations with the Palestinians for decades. In recent years, it has also cultivated good ties with Israel, especially in the field of defense.
In an interview with China’s state news agency Xinhua on Friday, Abbas said he will let the Chinese leaders know the barriers currently rooted in the Palestinians’ talks with Israel, as he “expects Beijing’s contribution to the stalled peace process.”
“It is very good that Netanyahu will visit China too because it is a good opportunity that the Chinese listen to both of us,” Abbas was quoted by Xinhua as saying.
Abbas said he will urge the Chinese leadership “to use its relationship with Israel to remove the obstacles that obstruct the Palestinian economy.”
Israeli officials say Netanyahu is expected to sign several bilateral deals with China in sectors such as agriculture and water during his five-day visit, with the aim of boosting bilateral trade worth about $ 10 billion.


Erdogan picks ministers for Turkey parliamentary race to boost his AK Party’s chances

Updated 23 May 2018
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Erdogan picks ministers for Turkey parliamentary race to boost his AK Party’s chances

  • Many cabinet members including the energy, defense, foreign and interior ministers were named this week
  • The party, in power since 2002, remains Turkey’s most popular political force

ANKARA: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has picked prominent ministers to run for parliament next month, strengthening the ruling AK Party’s chances of winning a majority but putting their future role in government into question, party officials say.
Many cabinet members including the energy, defense, foreign and interior ministers were named this week by the party to run for parliament in the June 24 poll, where the Islamist-rooted AK Party faces a stiff challenge from an opposition alliance.
While boosting the list of candidates, the move could affect the shape of the future cabinet because lawmakers will not be able to hold ministerial posts under the new presidential system, unless they resign their seats.
The party, in power since 2002, remains Turkey’s most popular political force, but recent opinion polls have suggested it could struggle to win an absolute majority, even with the support of its nationalist MHP ally.
The latest fall in the lira, which has lost more than a fifth of its value against the dollar this year, could also work against Erdogan if voters fear the government is pushing prices and the cost of living higher.
Erdogan is still widely expected to win the presidential election to be held the same day. While the presidency will take on greater executive authority afterwards, an opposition-controlled parliament could vote down legislation.
“Erdogan wants to win a parliamentary majority in this critical election with a strong list,” said one AK Party member running for parliament.
A survey by MAK pollsters, viewed as sympathetic to the ruling party, showed on Wednesday that the parliamentary race is absolutely balanced, with the AK Party together with the MHP winning exactly 50.0 percent. In the presidential vote, it saw Erdogan winning 51.4 percent.

MINISTERIAL CHANGES
The move to throw high profile ministers into the parliamentary race could have a major impact on the composition of next cabinet.
“Under normal circumstances, those who are in the (parliamentary) list will not be appointed ministers,” a senior AK Party official, who declined to be named, told Reuters.
Finance Minister Naci Agbal was not named as a parliamentary candidate, and three sources said he was expected to remain in the post-election cabinet.
However, Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci is expected to leave the cabinet and run for a mayoral office, the sources said, while the future of Mehmet Simsek, deputy prime minister with responsibility for the economy, was undecided.
Investors have been watching closely for signals about Simsek’s role. As a former investment banker in New York and London, he is seen as one of the most investor-friendly members of a government at odds with economic orthodoxy.
The Turkish lira, already one of the weakest emerging market currencies this year, has lost another 13 percent against the dollar since Erdogan said in London last week that he planned to take greater control of the economy and that the central bank would not be able to ignore signals from the new executive presidency.
“Erdogan will make the last call on Simsek. Although Simsek’s policies are sometimes criticized, everyone knows that it’s hard to replace him,” an AK Party official said.
Simsek congratulated those on the party’s parliamentary list on Tuesday, adding in a tweet: “Onwards, no stopping.”
Officials say economic management is expected to be overseen by one of five vice presidents in a cabinet made up of 14 ministers — down from the current 21.
The changes have not yet been finalized, however, and may not be completed before the election, one of the AK Party officials said.