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Ergogan disregards Kerry request to postpone Gaza visit

JTA

April 22, 2013 | 7:24 am

Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from his ruling AK Party (AKP) during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara on April 16. Photo by REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from his ruling AK Party (AKP) during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara on April 16. Photo by REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Turkey's prime minister will go ahead with a planned visit next month to Gaza, despite a request from US Secretary of State John Kerry to postpone.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly refused Kerry's request Sunday to postpone the visit, during a meeting between the two leaders in Istanbul. Erdogan had previously postponed his visit from this month until next, to take place after a scheduled meeting in Washington in mid-May.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also asked Erdogan to delay the visit during a meeting between the two men in Istanbul, saying it could harm relations between the West Bank and Gaza.

Erdogan reportedly plans to visit Gaza on or around May 31, the three-year anniversary of the Mavi Marmara incident, in which nine Turkish citizens were killed when Israeli naval commandoes raided the ship attempting to break Israel's naval blockade of Gaza.

Israeli negotiators on Monday met in Ankara with Turkish officials to discuss paying compensation to the families of the victims of the 2010 raid.

The negotiations are part of the process of restoring diplomatic ties between Israel and Turkey which were severed following the raid and which began the process of being repaired following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's apology last month to Erdogan.

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