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Report: Turkey plans alliance with Egypt

Sept. 7, 2011 at 9:47 AM   |   Comments

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ANKARA, Turkey, Sept. 7 (UPI) -- Turkey plans to sign a military and economic alliance with Egypt Monday during the first visit to Cairo by a Turkish prime minister in 15 years, officials said.

The development comes after Turkey said it was suspending military and commercial ties with Israel, but is not intended as "revenge" against Israel for last year's deaths in a raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian aid, Haaretz reported Wednesday.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara wants to develop economic and strategic links with Egypt's government after the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, who had rejected Turkey's overtures.

At the same time, Erdogan said Turkey may impose further sanctions against Israel and that Turkish warships would be seen in Mediterranean waters "more frequently."

Turkey's suspension of economic and military ties with Israel and, before that, expulsion of senior-level diplomats from the Israeli Embassy in Ankara came in response to Israel's refusal to apologize for its raid last year on a Gaza-bound ship in which eight Turks were killed.

A United Nations panel investigating the takeover of the aid ship said Israeli soldiers used "excessive and unreasonable" force against its passengers. But it said the Israeli blockade of Gaza was legal.

Haaretz said the moves against Israel won support among leaders of Erdogan's Justice and Development Party but some party members expressed reservations.

"You have to distinguish between Turkey's widespread support for the demand that Israel apologize and pay compensations and criticism about the country's diplomatic procedures," a member of parliament said.

The U.N. report did not order Israel to apologize, the parliament member noted, but "merely recommends that Israel express regret."

"In other words, there is a need to discuss the matter with Israel and work out acceptable language," the parliament member said.

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