First Israeli visit to Turkey since crisis

While Turkey and Israel agreed to normalize diplomatic relations again, talks appear to have stalled

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On Thursday, the Environment Minister Amir Peretz became the first Israeli official to visit Turkey since the rupture of relations between the two former allies over a deadly raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla.

Peretz is due to attend a U.N. conference in Istanbul about pollution in the Mediterranean Sea.

In May 2010, ties between Israel and Turkey hit an all-time low when Israeli commandos staged a pre-dawn raid on a flotilla of ships trying to taking aid to the besieged Gaza Strip, killing nine Turks.

The NATO-member Turkey, which was Israel’s closest Muslim ally, demanded a formal apology and compensation for the families of the victim.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to Turkey in March over the raid. The breakthrough gesture was brokered by U.S. President Barack Obama during his visit to Israel.

To normalize diplomatic relations again, Turkey and Israel held talks in April and May to discuss the terms of a compensation deal, in which Anakra laid down its conditions.

While Turkish officials said there was an agreement in principle between the parties to resolve the compensation matter, talks appear to have stalled.

Turkish media reports have speculated that Israel was not ready to pay as much as $1 million (around 800,000 euros) in damages for each victim, as demanded by Ankara.

(With AFP)

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