Turkey seeks to condemn Israel in security summit
A summit for 20-member security group for the Asian region kicked off today.
Istanbul: A summit for a 20-member security group for the Asian region kicked off on Monday in Istanbul with Turkey seeking to condemn Israel for a raid that killed nine Turks on a pro-Palestinian aid flotilla that had attempted to break the blockade on Gaza.
Turkey, the most important ally of Israel in the Muslim world, said it would reduce military and trade ties with Israel and shelved discussions of energy projects, including natural gas and fresh water shipments. It also threatened to break ties unless Israel apologises for the raid last week.
Nine heads of states, including leaders of Iran and Syria, and Russia`s Prime Minister are scheduled to attend the two-day Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, or CICA, that opened on Monday. Turkey said Israel, also a member, was invited but not expected to attend.
The interception prompted a worldwide outcry and growing demands that Israel ease or lift the blockade that has been in place since 2007, when the Islamic militant Hamas seized the territory. Under the blockade, most exports from Gaza are banned, further depressing the territory`s economy.
Turkey said it considers Gaza as well as the situation in Afghanistan as test cases for the security group that includes Russia, Iran, Afghanistan and South Korea. The group last met in 2006, after being set up in 1999 to discuss Asia`s conflicts.
Turkey is assuming the presidency of the group from Kazakhstan and is expected to use the platform to draw attention to the plight of Palestinians during Monday`s meeting between foreign ministers of the participants. Iraq and Vietnam will become new members on Tuesday morning before the world leaders convene.
Before dawn on Monday, the Israeli Navy fired on Palestinian divers off Gaza, and Palestinian medics said they later retrieved four bodies. The Israeli military said its forces prevented an attack on Israeli targets, but did not explain further.
The incident came a week after Israeli commandos killed the nine Turks, including a 19-year-old boy who held dual Turkish-US citizenship, in international waters of the Mediterranean.
On Saturday, Israel commandeered another aid ship without incident. All 19 activists, including a Nobel Peace laureate, and crew were deported on Sunday.