Angela Merkel to meet Turkish prime minister

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was to meet Friday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has been skeptical of his country's bid to join the European Union. Merkel and Erdogan were to meet at the chancellery and attend a German-Turkish economic conference.

The German government said they plan to discuss "current bilateral and international questions," but did not elaborate. Conservative leader Merkel opposed EU membership for Turkey before last year's election. However, her coalition partner, predecessor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats, supports Ankara's bid, and Merkel's government supports the country's ongoing membership talks.

"We have said ... that the result is open," Ruprecht Polenz, the head of parliament's foreign affairs committee and a member of Merkel's Christian Democrats, told WDR radio. "We cannot say definitively today whether Turkey will succeed in 'Europeanizing' itself to the extent that, in the end, it will be become a member of the European Union as a European country," he added. "But we want to, and should, help it to be as successful as possible on this road."

Enthusiasm for further expansion of the 25-nation EU is low among existing members, and the prospect of relatively poor and overwhelmingly Muslim Turkey joining is viewed with suspicion by many Europeans. Germany is home to a large Turkish minority. Along with France and Britain, Germany is at the forefront of European efforts to address concerns over the nuclear ambitions of Iran Turkey's eastern neighbor, reports the AP.

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