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SATURDAY, 19 APR 2014
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Israeli minister on first Turkey visit since 2010 crisis
Agence France Presse
Israel's Environment Minister Amir Peretz attends the 18th ordinary meeting of contracting parties to the Barcelona convention and its protocols on December 5 2013 in istanbul.  AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE
Israel's Environment Minister Amir Peretz attends the 18th ordinary meeting of contracting parties to the Barcelona convention and its protocols on December 5 2013 in istanbul. AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE
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ISTANBUL: An Israeli cabinet minister was visiting Turkey on Thursday on the first such trip since the rupture of relations between the two former allies over a deadly raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla.

Environment Minister Amir Peretz is due to attend a UN conference in Istanbul about pollution in the Mediterranean Sea.

Ties between Israel and Turkey hit an all-time low in May 2010 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 assault damaged relations between Israel and its once closest Muslim ally, with Ankara demanding a formal apology and compensation for the families of the victims.

In March this year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologised to NATO-member Turkey over the raid -- a breakthrough brokered by US President Barack Obama during his visit to the Jewish state.

Turkish and Israeli delegations held talks in April and May to discuss the terms of a compensation deal, which Ankara has laid down as a condition for the normalisation of diplomatic ties with Israel.

Turkish officials said there was an agreement in principle between the parties to resolve the compensation matter but 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.

 
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