US urges Turkey to keep door open with Israel

The United States has watched with dismay as Turkish-Israeli ties began to unravel in late 2008.

Updated: Sep 20, 2011, 00:32 AM IST

New York: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Turkey to "keep the door open" to better ties with Israel, a US official said on Monday, seeking to prevent relations between two US allies from getting worse.

"She encouraged Turkey to keep the door open," a senior US official who spoke on condition of anonymity told reporters after Hillary met Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu for nearly an hour.

"We want to see them repair their relationship, so she encouraged them to avoid any steps that would close that door and, on the contrary, to actively seek ways that they can repair (their) important relationship with Israel," he added.

"The secretary made clear that this is not a time when we need more tension, more volatility in the region," said a second official, apparently referring to deteriorating Israeli ties with Egypt and Jordan and tensions with the Palestinians.”

The United States has watched with dismay as Turkish-Israeli ties began to unravel in late 2008, after Israel outraged Turkey by launching an offensive against the Gaza Strip, ruled by the Palestinian Islamist Hamas group.

Turkey reacted angrily this month to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu`s refusal to apologise for an Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla that killed nine Turkish citizens in May 2010.

After the release of a UN report on the flotilla, which aimed to break Israel`s naval blockade of Gaza, Erdogan`s government expelled Israel`s envoy, froze military cooperation and said the Turkish navy could escort future aid flotillas.

The senior US officials declined to say whether Hillary had specifically warned Davutoglu against such military escorts, which raise the prospect of military confrontation between NATO-member Turkey and the Jewish state.

Bureau Report

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