Erdoğan meets with top Hamas leaders in Istanbul

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday hosted a large delegation of leaders from Islamist Palestinian group Hamas in Istanbul, including the group’s political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh, T24 news site reported.

Turkish National Intelligence Agency (MİT) head Hakan Fidan, Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun and presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın were also present during the meeting, which arrives amid escalated cross-border tensions between Israel and Hamas.

Hamas’ number two figure Saleh al-Arouri, who was designated as a terrorist by Washington and has a $5 million bounty on his head, was also in attendance at the meeting, it said.

No information has been given about the content of the closed-door meeting.

Turkish President Recep Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have faced criticism over their ideological ties with Hamas, which is listed as a terrorist organisation by the United States and the European Union. 

Erdoğan maintains that Hamas as a terrorist organisation, but as a resistance movement working to liberate Palestinian territories occupied by Israel.

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