Germany said it would back Turkey's offer to act as a mediator between Israel and Palestinian election winners Hamas if Ankara persuades the radical Islamist group to renounce violence and recognize the Jewish state.
Turkey says Hamas must act democratically
"We would have no objection to a mediation initiative by Turkey if it can influence Hamas" to fulfill the conditions required for diplomatic relations, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gül on Tuesday.
Those conditions are that Hamas break from its violent past, recognize Israel and accept the so-called "roadmap" to Middle East peace drawn up by international quartet, the German minister said.
Steinmeier, who flew into Turkey for a brief working visit after a tour of Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan, said he had agreed with Gül to pursue efforts for peace in the Middle East, but only if Hamas agreed to the conditions.
Last month, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that his country was ready to act as an intermediary between Israel and Hamas, counting on Ankara's good ties with both sides. He also called on the international community to accept the outcome of the Palestinian elections and urged Hamas to renounce its past, a message that was echoed by Gül on Tuesday.
Gül: Hamas must embrace democracy
Erdogan (right) and Gül are prepared to mediate in the Middle East
"Since Hamas has won the elections in a democratic manner, it must now act in a democratic manner," the Turkish foreign minister said.
He dodged a question on whether a Hamas delegation would visit Turkey, but stressed that the international community must help to put the Middle East back on the road to peace following the election results.
"Since there is a new situation in the region, we should all help. Turkey has good ties with both sides so we are trying to do everything we can and give the right messages," Gül said. "What is important is that peace is established in the region," he added.
Turkey close to Israel and Palestinians
Putin invited Khaled Mashaal, head of Hamas, to Moscow
Turkey has been Israel's main regional ally since 1996 when the two struck a military cooperation deal, but it also has close ties with the Palestinians and supports their claim to statehood. Israel, which has categorically ruled out any talks with Hamas as long as it remains committed to the destruction of the Jewish state, was infuriated last week after Russian President Vladimir Putin invited Hamas for talks in Moscow.
Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and European Union but not by Russia. Israel is trying to ensure that other European countries do not agree to meet with the organization.
Steinmeier gave the Israeli leadership backing on Monday in its campaign to maintain the international isolation of Hamas.