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Netanyahu congratulates Turkey's Erdogan

June 22, 2011 at 8:01 AM
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JERUSALEM, June 22 (UPI) -- Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sent a congratulatory note to his Turkish counterpart in a bid to improve ties between the two nations, officials say.

Netanyahu congratulated Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan over his recent election victory and stressed Israel "will be happy to work with the new Turkish government."

"My government will be happy to work with the new Turkish government on finding a resolution to all outstanding issues between our countries, in the hope of reestablishing our cooperation and renewing the spirit of friendship which has characterized the relations between our peoples for many generations," said an excerpt of the letter written by Netanyahu published by the Turkish daily Today's Zaman.

Ties between the two countries hit an all-time low following the Mavi Marmara incident last year when nine Turkish activists seeking to break the Israeli imposed blockade on Gaza with a flotilla carrying humanitarian relief were killed.

Turkey recalled its ambassador following the incident and demanded an apology from Israel and compensation for the families, The Jerusalem Post said.

On a recent visit to Italy, Netanyahu expressed interest in improving ties with Ankara, the Post said.

"We did not choose, in any way, a deterioration in ties with Turkey. We are always hoping to fix what has been damaged, and to stop the deterioration and place the ties back on a positive track," the Post quoted Netanyahu saying.

Haaretz reported Tuesday that the United States has been working intensively behind the scenes to improve ties between the two countries. The newspaper said an Israeli official is meeting with Turkey's foreign ministry undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu, who is considered a firm supporter of improving ties with Israel.

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