Diplomats meet as Turkey expects 'Israel to clean blood'

Erdogan described Ankara's assistance for the fire-fighting effort in Israel as "our humanitarian and Islamic duty."

Diplomats meet as Turkey expects 'Israel to clean blood'

Turkey expects Israel to apologise and "clean the blood" spilled when nine Turkish activists were killed by Israeli commandos on a Gaza-bound aid ship, its prime minister said on Sunday.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's made the comments as senior foreign ministry officials from both countries met in Switzerland to discuss ways of repairing the relationship.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu telephoned Erdogan on Friday to thank him for sending fire-fighting planes to help battle forest fires in northern Israel that killed 41 people.

It was the first conversation between the two men since Israeli soldiers stormed the Mavi Marmara on May 31. The aid boat that was part of a Turkish-led convoy bringing supplies to blockaded Gaza.

"Islamic duty"

Erdogan described Ankara's assistance for the fire-fighting effort in Israel as "our humanitarian and Islamic duty."

He ruled out improvement in ties unless Israel apologised over the flotilla bloodshed and paid compensation to the victims' families.

"Some say we should turn a new page... An apology must be offered first, compensation must be paid first," Erdogan said Sunday in a speech in Sivas, central Turkey, Anatolia news agency reported.

"If a hand is extended, we will not leave it in the air... but we want to see that this hand is extended with sincerity.

"No one should expect us to keep silent and forfeit law and justice as long as the blood spilled in the Mediterranean is not cleared," he said.

"Bid to overcome crisis"

Israel's Haaretz daily reported Sunday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had sent the Israeli representative on the UN committee investigating the flotilla raid, Yosef Ciechanover, to Geneva to meet with Sinirlioglu.

The two would try to draw up a draft agreement that would put and end to the crisis, the daily quoted a senior Israeli source as saying.

An Israeli official also told Reuters news agency that Joseph Ciechanover, a senior diplomat, was sent to Geneva to meet Turkish Foreign Minister Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu following the phone conversation between Netanyahu and Erdogan.

"They met to see how the sides might improve relations following Turkey's assistance in fighting the forest fire," said the official, who declined to be named.

He did not have any details on the outcome of the meeting.

A Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman confirmed to Reuters that the meeting between Sinirlioglu and "a high-ranking Israeli official" occurred in Geneva but could not elaborate further.

It was the first face-to-face meeting between senior diplomats since Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met Israeli Trade Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer on July 1.

Erdogan slammed Israel's attacks in region, such as the deadly offensive on Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009, which killed up to 1500 Palestinians.


Agencies

Last Mod: 06 Aralık 2010, 10:04
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