US welcomes potential agreement between Turkey and Israel
AFP photoU.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby welcomed Dec. 21 a potential agreement between Israel and Turkey to improve the tense relations which have been simmering for more than five years.
“We’ve seen reports of a potential agreement between Israel and Turkey to restore diplomatic relations,” said Kirby during a daily press briefing on Dec. 21.
“We would welcome this step in improving relations between two of our key allies in the region,” Kirby said.
A Turkish government official revealed to Hürriyet Daily News on Dec. 17 that Israeli and Turkish officials held talks in Switzerland over the broken ties and may reach a deal soon.
“We have not reached an agreement yet,” the official said. “But [talks] may result soon.”
Turkish-Israeli relations have been tense since Israeli forces raided a Gaza-bound flotilla of mainly Turkish activists, killing 10 people aboard the Mavi Marmara, the largest of the six vessels in the flotilla, on May 31, 2010.
Turkey put forth three main steps to mend ties with Israel after the flotilla raid. The first of the hindrances – an apology from Israel – had been fulfilled. Negotiations for compensation and the lifting of an embargo on Gaza, the other two steps, are still continuing.
Another Turkish official had told Hürriyet Daily News on Dec. 18 there had been progress on the issue of compensation, while insisting the lifting of the Israeli blockade of Gaza still remains on the table as a condition for normalization.
Israel and Turkey have reached a preliminary agreement to normalize relations, including the return of ambassadors to both countries, Reuters quoted an Israeli official as saying earlier Dec 17.