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US Defense Secretary: Europe Pushing Turkey 'Eastward'

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says Europe's reluctance to bolster ties with Turkey is pushing leaders in Ankara away from the West.

Gates told reporters in London Wednesday that Turkey may be shifting "eastward" because some in Europe are refusing to give Turkey the "organic link to the West" that it has sought.

Turkey has been in talks to join the European Union since 2005, but has made little progress.

Gates also said Turkey's deteriorating relationship with Israel over the past year is a matter of concern.

Relations between Turkey and Israel became strained after Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip a year-and-a-half ago. Tensions rose last month following Israel's deadly raid on an aid flotilla carrying Turkish activists bound for Gaza.

Gates said the United States and European countries need to think about what they can do to make Turkey's leaders value stronger links to the West.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP.