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Due in Turkey today, Germany's Merkel set to discuss bilateral ties, mideast peace, Iran

Due in Turkey today, Germany's Merkel set to discuss bilateral ties, mideast peace, Iran

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to arrive in Ankara today for a two-day official visit focusing on bilateral relations, particularly trade ties, and a number of issues of common concern such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and the Middle East peace process. In a video posted on her official website, Merkel said that the Middle East peace efforts and Iran's nuclear program would be discussed in her talks with top Turkish officials. She said Germany wants to see Tehran acting transparently on its nuclear ambitions. "Otherwise, the German government favors that sanctions be imposed on Iran," she added. "It is an issue which we will also discuss in Ankara." Merkel said she was very happy to be visiting Turkey, adding that she had very good relations with both President Abdullah Gul and her Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Merkel will also hold talks in Istanbul. In related news, Erdogan reiterated his call for diplomatic means to resolve the dispute between the West and Iran over Tehran's controversial nuclear program. "What we need here is nothing but diplomacy. Anything else would threaten global peace and yield nothing," Erdogan told German weekly Der Spiegel. Asked about International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) doubts that Iran would use nuclear power for civilian purposes only and whether Turkey would support sanctions on Tehran, Erdogan said the IAEA has no such doubts. "Past sanctions on Iran have failed to yield any results. US and German goods reach Iran, albeit indirectly. There are Mercedes and Peugeots in Iran," Erdogan said. "We do not want nuclear weapons in our region. And this is what I have told the Iranian president, too." Dismissing a US House panel's recent passage of a resolution seeking official recognition of the so-called Armenian "genocide" claims, Erdogan said the US and other countries are not parties to the issue. Stating that Turkey was established on the remains of the Ottoman Empire, Erdogan said, "We're ready to face our history but the Armenian side should be ready to do same as well." Stressing that there was no "genocide" but rather civil strife and fighting caused by revolting Armenian armed groups who sought to establish an Armenian state in eastern Anatolia with the support of the invading Russian Army during World War I, Erdogan said many Turks and Armenians alike lost their lives in those incidents. "This should be examined carefully," he said. Erdogan also dismissed Merkel's "privileged partnership" proposal in lieu of full European Union membership, saying that Turkey is continuing its EU accession talks towards full membership. "There is no other eventual option for Turkey," he said. Stating that Turkey and the EU need each other, Erdogan said, "Turkey won't bring an additional burden on the shoulders of the Union but on the contrary, it will lighten the 27-member bloc's burden."

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