Turkish PM Davutoglu kicks off coalition talks
Davutoglu met with Kemal Kilicdaroglu and other leaders of the Republican People's Party to talk for a possible "grand coalition" between the two parties
Turkey's prime minister kicked off a first round of talks on forming a coalition government on Monday by meeting Turkey's secularist party, and said he had "sincere and friendly" discussions with the main rival of his ruling Islamic-rooted party.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met with Kemal Kilicdaroglu and other leaders of the Republican People's Party to test the waters for a possible "grand coalition" between the two parties, which together would have an unassailable majority but have deep-seated rivalries.
Davutoglu said the sides reiterated a need for strong government and added that party officials would hold more talks with the secularists to see if they have common ground for an alliance.
"I see that we share a joint wish and understanding for the talks to continue," Davutoglu told reporters after the meeting.
Turkey's June 7 election left Davutoglu's Justice and Development Party, or AKP, short of a majority, forcing it to seek a partner in one of the three smaller parties in parliament.
Davutoglu is to meet with the leaders of the hard-line nationalist party Tuesday and the pro-Kurdish party Wednesday - although he has previously ruled out an alliance with the Kurds. He has 45 days in which to form a government.
The ruling party's likely partners have all demanded a diminished role for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a condition for any alliance. They insist Erdogan - who founded the ruling party, led it as prime minister for over a decade and remains a dominant political force - be reined in and stick to the presidency's largely ceremonial powers.
Davutoglu, who has said the president's position is not up for debate, told reporters that the issue was not discussed on Monday.
The smaller parties are also demanding that corruption cases concerning four former ministers close to Erdogan be reopened.