Turkey's apparent shift in orientation away from Europe and its values towards greater cooperation with Islamist leaders and countries in the Middle East is being cautiously watched by the US, Defense Secretary Robert Gates stated on Wednesday.

"The deterioration in the relationship between Turkey and Israel over the past year or so is a matter of concern," Gates was quoted by Reuters as telling reporters in London.

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"I think the two had a pretty constructive relationship and one that contributed to stability in the region, and I hope that, over time, that kind of constructive relationship can be reestablished," Gates reportedly said.


Turkey, which had a solid alliance with Israel until the three-week Gaza war that ended in early 2009, said it would reduce military and trade ties and shelved discussions of energy projects, including natural gas and fresh water shipments. It threatened to break ties unless Israel apologizes for the Mavi Marmara raid.

"We are evaluating everything. It is up to Israel how our ties will continue," Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu said on Monday. "Israel has to accept the consequences of its actions and be held accountable."

Gates also told the reporters at the same London meeting that UN Security Council would likely pass a tougher Iran sanctions measure today, paving the way for additional measures against the Iranian nuclear program.

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