US cool on Turkish PM plans to visit Palestinians

The United States Wednesday remained cool to a possible visit by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the Palestinian territories next month, renewing US opposition to engaging Hamas.

Hot on the heels of last week's breakthrough apology from Israel for the deaths of nine Turks during a 2010 Israeli raid on a Gaza aid flotilla, Erdogan said he planned to travel to the Gaza Strip and West Bank in the coming weeks.

He added the aim would be "to help the process" of lifting an Israeli embargo on the Palestinian territories -- an issue raised in talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to the state news agency Anatolia.

A top US official said Washington shared global concerns about the plight of the Palestinians, including those living in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

But State Department acting deputy spokesman Patrick Ventrell stressed the US continued to "urge all those wishing to provide international humanitarian support to Gaza to do so through established channels, to ensure that the Palestinians' humanitarian needs and Israel's legitimate security needs are both met."

Washington's stand on Hamas militants has also "not changed," he added, noting US "opposition to engagement with Hamas."