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Erdoğan says to be travelling on day of Blinken visit

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he will be continuing a planned tour of Turkey on Monday, making it unlikely that he will meet visiting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Agence France-Presse reported.

The top US diplomat is due to land in Ankara late Sunday for talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan about the Israel-Hamas war the following day.

US officials traveling with Blinken had sounded positive about a possible meeting with Erdoğan, who has lashed out at Israel for the soaring civilian death toll of its military operation in Gaza.

Israel is trying to crush Hamas militants who staged the deadliest attack in the country’s history on October 7, killing more than 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and taking 240 hostages, according to Israeli officials.

Israel’s bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip has killed more than 9,770 people, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

Erdoğan on Sunday once again condemned the “immoral, unscrupulous, despicable massacre” in Gaza.

He added that he would be visiting the northeastern Turkish village of Ayder on Monday, when Blinken will be holding talks with Fidan in Ankara.

“I will go to Ayder tomorrow,” he said during a televised rally in the Black Sea coast city of Rize, adding that he wanted to see the “urban transformation” of the remote region.

NATO member Turkey has recalled its ambassador to Israel for consultations and broken off contacts with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in protest at the Israel-Hamas war.

But Erdoğan said Sunday that Ankara was “working behind the scenes” in an effort to stop the bloodshed and ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza.

“Be assured that we are doing much more than meets the eye,” Erdoğan said.

Fidan spoke by phone Sunday with his Egyptian and Jordanian counterparts, according to a Turkish diplomatic source.

The sides discussed ways “to establish an immediate ceasefire” and ensure “the continued and uninterrupted delivery of humanitarian aid,” the Turkish source said.

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