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U.S. pressing Israel, Turkey to reconcile

JTA

September 7, 2011 | 4:08 pm

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan

The Obama administration is pressing Israel and Turkey to renew reconciliation talks.

Turkey suspended the talks and downgraded its ties with Israel last week after a U.N. report partially vindicated Israel’s 2010 raid on a Turkish-backed aid flotilla heading for Gaza. Turkey, anticipating Israel’s partial vindication, had been seeking an apology from Israel before the report was released for the deaths of nine Turks in the ensuing melee.

In addition to cutting off defense cooperation and trade, the Turkish government is now threatening sanctions against Israel.

“We have, over many months, tried to work with our ally Turkey and our ally Israel to strengthen and improve their bilateral relationship,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Tuesday. “We still believe that getting back to a good partnership between them is in each of their interests, and we will continue to work for that goal with both of them. But we are concerned about the state of the relationship today.”

Nuland said U.S. representations have been made by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in a recent Paris meeting with her Turkish counterpart, and by top peace brokers Dennis Ross and David Hale in meetings this week with Israeli leaders.

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