German chancellor in Turkey for talks on Iran, EU bid

19:55, March 29, 2010      

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in the Turkish capital Ankara on Monday for a two-day visit, with the Iran nuclear issue and Turkey's bid to join the European Union (EU) to top her agenda.

Germany favors sanctions over Iran if the country does not show transparency over its nuclear projects and the issue would be discussed in Ankara, Merkel said in a video message at the weekend.

Turkey has urged for diplomatic tools to solve the nuclear standoff between Iran and the West, which suspects Iran aims to make atomic bombs. Iran says its nuclear programs are peaceful.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a recent interview with German newsweekly Der Spiegel that previous sanctions imposed on Iran had failed to work, calling for more time for negotiations.

Meanwhile, Germany's opposition to Turkey's full EU membership is also expected to dominate Merkel's talks in Ankara. Merkel has voiced support for a "privileged partnership" for Turkey instead of full membership, which Ankara rejects.

Turkey is already in talks for full membership and will not accept a different goal, Erdogan told Der Spiegel ahead of Merkel' s visit.

The EU launched accession talks with Turkey in October 2005 but has only opened 12 chapters, or negotiating areas, out of 35 that are required so far.

Merkel is scheduled to meet Erdogan and Turkish President Abdullah Gul on Monday. She will then proceed to Istanbul and leave Turkey on Tuesday.

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