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Turkey warns Gaza crisis could escalate

Turkey warns Gaza crisis could escalate

Turkey's foreign minister warned Monday that Israeli airstrikes against Hamas targets in Gaza threatened to escalate into a wider crisis across the region.
Foreign Minister Ali Babacan called for an immediate cease-fire as Israel continued its attacks for a third day Monday that have killed more than 300 people.
"There should be an immediate cease-fire," Babacan told a joint news conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit. "Otherwise, the situation will not be limited to Gaza only, but it might develop to extended challenges in the region and make the situation worse."
Aboul Gheit signaled that the two countries could join forces to work to end hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians.
Babacan said Turkey was keeping channels of communication open, including with the Hamas leadership.
However, he said Turkey was suspending its role as mediator for peace talks between Israel and Syria. Syria announced Sunday it was suspending the peace talks launched in May because of the attacks on Gaza.
Syria and Israel countries held direct talks in the late 1990s and early 2000 but negotiations broke down over the extent of an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights, a strategic territory captured by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
Syria insists on the complete return of the Golan Heights, while Israel wants to keep a strip of land around the Sea of Galilee.
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Associated Press writer Suzan Fraser in Ankara contributed to this report.