US concerned about Israel-Turkey row

The US has urged Turkey and Israel to de-escalate their dispute over an Israeli commando operation.

Washington: The United States expressed concern on Tuesday over a diplomatic row between its allies Turkey and Israel, urging them to "de-escalate" their dispute over an Israeli commando operation.

"We are concerned," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland after Ankara raised the stakes by announcing it was suspending military and defence industry ties with Israel.

The dispute stems from an Israeli commando raid in international waters on a Turkish vessel that was taking aid to the Palestinian territory of Gaza.

The United Nations criticised Israel for using "excessive" force in the 2010 raid, which left nine people dead, but upheld Israel`s right to impose a naval blockade on Gaza. Israel has refused Turkish demands for an apology.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton raised US concerns about the row in Paris last week with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davotoglu. And the United States has had discussions with the Israelis about it in recent days, Nuland said.

"Our emphasis with both the government of Turkey and the government of Israel is to hope that we can de-escalate, we can defuse, and we can get them back to talking about improving their relationship," she said.

"There are freedom of navigation issues for both Turkey and for Israel. But we want to avoid future confrontations, and we want both of these strong allies of the United States to get back to a place where they have a good working relationship with each other," she said.

On Tuesday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara had "suspended all military agreements, especially the commercial ties in defence industry”.

"Israel has always played the role of a spoilt child," Erdogan said in reference to Israel`s attitude towards the Palestinians.

Bureau Report

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