News / Europe

Turkey Criticizes US Request to Delay PM's Gaza Visit

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (r) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ankara, Turkey,  April 22, 2013.
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (r) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ankara, Turkey, April 22, 2013.
Reuters
— Turkey on Monday criticized U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for asking Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to delay his planned visit to the Palestinian Gaza Strip, in a blunt put-down that underlined often prickly ties between the NATO allies.

Erdogan, who has for years spoken of his desire to visit the Palestinian enclave, said last week he planned to go in late May after an official visit to the United States earlier in the same month.

But during a visit to Turkey on Sunday, Kerry said he had asked the Turkish leader to delay his visit so as not to upset U.S. efforts to revive Ankara's ties with Israel and Middle East peace talks.

"Mr. Kerry's statement ... from a diplomatic perspective was objectionable, wrong and was incorrect," Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc told reporters in Ankara.

"Only the Turkish government decides when and where the prime minister or any other Turkish official travels to," said Arinc, who also serves as the government spokesman.

During a visit to Turkey in March, Kerry also called a comment by Erdogan likening Zionism to crimes against humanity "objectionable", in a disagreement that has cast a pall over talks between Turkey and the United States.

Erdogan had been expected to visit Hamas-controlled Gaza this month but postponed his trip, apparently at the request of the United States. However, Arinc said Erdogan would have visited this month had his schedule allowed.

He will travel to Washington to meet U.S. President Barack Obama on May 16.

Hamas's refusal to recognize the Jewish state and past vows to destroy it are a key reason behind an Israeli blockade of the coastal territory since Hamas seized it from the more moderate pro-Western Fatah movement in 2007.

Europe and the United States have long demanded Hamas drop violence and recognise Israel as a condition for any dialogue.

Erdogan's planned trip would also come at a sensitive time for Turkish-Israeli relations, frozen after the 2010 killing by Israeli marines of nine Turks aboard a Gaza-bound aid ship.

In March Obama brokered a first step in reconciliation between Turkey and Israel, two main allies of Washington in the  Middle East, by persuading Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to apologize to Turkey over the incident.

Israeli Delegation

In another sign of rapprochement, an Israeli delegation was in Ankara on Monday for the first time since 2010 to discuss compensation to the victims' families.

"The meeting was generally a positive meeting ... the amount of compensation was not discussed ... and was not determined, but methods and rules of calculating the amount were discussed during the meeting," Arinc said after the talks.

Arinc said a second and possible third meeting would be held in order to resolve the issue, which would be a "major step toward full restoration of diplomatic ties".

The head of the Turkish delegation meeting the Israelis said the next meeting would be held in the next few days.

Turkey cut its once extensive ties with the Jewish state after the so-called "Mavi Marmara" incident in 2010, named after the Turkish ship which led the flotilla that tried to breach  Israel's blockade of Gaza.

Ankara expelled Israel's ambassador and froze military cooperation after a U.N. report into the incident, released in September 2011, largely exonerated the Jewish state.

It set precise conditions for normalizing ties - an apology, compensation and Israel lifting its embargo on Gaza.

A mending of ties between two of Washington's main allies in the region could bolster U.S. influence in the Middle East, help coordination to contain the spillover from the Syrian civil war and ease Israel's diplomatic isolation among its neighbors.

But for all the diplomatic flurry, a full restoration of ties still appeared some way off.

Israel has made clear it did not commit to ending its Gaza blockade as part of the reconciliation, an oft-repeated Turkish demand, saying days after the apology that it could clamp down even harder on the enclave if security was threatened.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Ozlam from: Canada
April 22, 2013 9:38 PM
Erdogan destroyed my country. We used to have a proud Military, proud people, today fear is everywhere. The proud Turkish Military is afraid from arrests and arbitrary detentions. The whole country is disfigured by fear. Very bad Economy. Secret Police MIT very bad - people disappear... NATO doesn't care because they are so corrupt and America try hard not to see - political correct... the Muslim Brotherhood have taken over my country

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid