Sense of Deception

Turkey seeks U.S. support vs Israel on flotilla


01 Jun 2010 16:02:50 GMT

Source: Reuters

* Foreign minister likens attack to Sept. 11 * Turkish effort to mediate Syria-Israel talks on hold * U.S.-Turkey ties already strained by Iran By Andrew Quinn WASHINGTON, June 1 (Reuters) – Turkey on Tuesday pressed for stronger U.S. support after Israel’s raid on a Turkish-backed aid flotilla, saying the crisis could hit U.S. hopes for Middle East peace amid worsening tensions over Iran’s nuclear program. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, in Washington for talks with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said Ankara wanted a clear U.S. condemnation of Monday’s raid after Israeli forces killed nine people, including four Turks, while trying to stop a convoy of vessels delivering aid to the Gaza Strip. “Some of our allies are not ready to condemn the Israeli actions,” Davutoglu said. He said he was disappointed with Washington’s cautious response to an incident he likened to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. “Psychologically this attack is like 9-11 for Turkey because Turkish citizens were attacked by a state, not by terrorists, with an intention, a clear decision of political leaders of that state,” he said. “We expect full solidarity with us. It should not be a choice between Turkey and Israel. It should be a choice between right and wrong.” International fury over the flotilla attack has created a tough balancing act for the Obama administration, particularly with Turkey, a key NATO ally seen by Washington as a secular Muslim power that can counter Islamic militancy in the region. Both Turkey and Israel, the United States’ closest Middle East ally, are pivotal players on peace in the region and the impasse over Iran’s nuclear program. A rupture in relations between the two could badly complicate U.S. foreign policy. MEDIATION ON HOLD Davutoglu said he had planned to discuss relaunching indirect Israeli-Syrian peace talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but that the initiative was now on hold. Netanyahu scrapped his own planned Tuesday visit to Washington after the crisis erupted. “We were planning to have meetings to discuss a regional peace plan,” Davutoglu told reporters at a briefing. “But they (Israeli officials) didn’t respect the rights of individuals and they didn’t respond to our efforts to restore our relations and to restart Israeli-Syrian indirect talks. “If they don’t act, how can we convince Syria or other countries in the region that they want peace?” The United Nations has called for an impartial investigation into what happened as Israeli forces boarded the ship where the killings occurred, and Davutoglu said he would seek U.S. support for an immediate and unconditional release of all those detained in the raid. Turkey also will raise the issue with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization because the incident was an attack on citizens of a NATO country by a non-NATO state, he said. The United States and Turkey already were at odds over Iran, with Turkey and Brazil pushing a new proposed atomic fuel deal for Tehran as a diplomatic alternative to the tough U.N. sanctions that Washington wants. The United States has rejected the proposal as too little, too late and says the measure does not address core concerns that Tehran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran says its nuclear program is purely peaceful. Davutoglu said on Tuesday the proposed fuel deal would be a confidence-building measure that could lead to further discussions on Iran’s nuclear plans, and rejected suggestions that Turkey and Brazil were helping Tehran to delay U.N. action on sanctions. “This is not defending Iran,” he said. “This is defending regional peace, global peace, and the national interests of Turkey.” (Editing by Bill Trott)

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