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INTERNATIONAL > Israel-Turkey detente 'vital' for Mideast peace: Kerry

JERUSALEM - Agence France-Presse

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US Secretary of State John Kerry arrives prior to an official arrival ceremony for US President Barack Obama by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the Muqata, the Palestinian Authority headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on March 21, 2013. AFP photo

US Secretary of State John Kerry arrives prior to an official arrival ceremony for US President Barack Obama by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the Muqata, the Palestinian Authority headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on March 21, 2013. AFP photo

Israel and Turkey's recent rapprochement is a vital factor in developing peace and stability in the Middle East, US Secretary of State John Kerry said.

US President Barack Obama brokered the tentative reconciliation between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday during his visit to Israel.

"The reconciliation between Israel and Turkey is a very important development that will help advance the cause of peace and stability in the region," Kerry said in a statement Saturday from the Jordanian capital Amman.

"Prime Minister Netanyahu and Prime Minister Erdogan deserve great credit for showing the leadership necessary to make this possible," he added.

"We look forward to an expeditious implementation of the agreement and the full normalization of relations so Israel and Turkey can work together to advance their common interests."

Kerry, who held talks with Netanyahu after an earlier meeting with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, said the rapprochement would help Israel meet the regional challenges it faces.

The top US diplomat "had useful follow up meetings with both President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu," a senior State Department official told journalists in Amman.

"In both meetings, Secretary Kerry reiterated that peace is not only possible, but necessary for the future of the Israeli and Palestinian people."

On Friday, Netanyahu apologised for a 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla during which Israeli soldiers killed nine Turks during a raid.

He announced the resumption of full diplomatic ties between the two countries after a three-year rift and pledged to continue lifting restrictions on goods entering Palestine "as long as calm prevailed."

Erdogan followed up by announcing plans to visit the Palestinian territories.

"It is possible that I will visit Gaza and the West Bank during the course of this month or the next," state news agency Anatolia quoted Erdogan as telling journalists.

The visit, he said, would serve to facilitate the process of lifting the Israeli embargo on Palestinian territories, as promised by Netanyahu.

A spokesman for the Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip confirmed that Erdogan would be visiting.

Kerry warns Iraq PM on Iran-Syria overflights

BAGHDAD - Agence France-Presse

US Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters in Baghdad on Sunday that he told Iraqi premier Nuri al-Maliki that flights from Iran going through Iraqi airspace apparently carrying military equipment were helping sustain Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
 
"I made very clear to the prime minister that the overflights from Iran are in fact helping to sustain President Assad and his regime," Kerry said,a dding that he told Maliki that "anything that supports President Assad is problematic."


March/24/2013

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