'Israel, Turkey hold second meeting to mend ties'

Turkish diplomatic sources say Netanyahu sent representative to talk, after Turkey helps put out Carmel fire; PM refuses to confirm reports.

December 7, 2010 09:48
1 minute read.

Erdogan 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

Diplomatic sources confirmed on Tuesday that Israeli and Turkish officials met a second time in Geneva, Turkish daily Hurriyet reported.

Turkish diplomats told Hurriyet that Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu and Israel's representative to the UN probe of the Gaza flotilla incident, Yosef Ciechanover, have discussed mending diplomatic ties for the past two days.

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"If someone extends us a friendly hand for a solution to problems, we do not leave that hand in the air," a Turkish diplomatic source reportedly said.

The Turkish diplomats did not comment on the contents of the talks, but told Hurriyet that "'fire diplomacy' has encouraged the diplomatic contact" and served to "help break the ice."

Another source reportedly said Turkey is optimistic about the talks, because they are a personal initiative of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Asked at a Jerusalem press conference about what was happening with the ties, Netanyahu said he would not talk about it at this time.

The prime minister also ignored a question about whether he would apologize – as the Turks are demanding – for the flotilla incident in which nine Turks were killed trying to break Israel’s sea blockade of the Gaza Strip. Turkey is also demanding compensation payments for those injured in the incident, as well as to the families of the dead.

“Let’s say we are very appreciative of the fact that the Turkish government sent two planes at a time when we needed them,” Netanyahu said. “We greatly appreciate that. I think that is very important, and I expressed that appreciation, as well as my hope that this will enable us to move forward in an improvement of ties. Beyond that, I have nothing to say.”

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said since Ankara sent the planes that he still demands an apology from Israel for the flotilla incident.

Herb Keinon contributed to this report.

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