Erdogan plans visit to Gaza

March 23, 2013 at 12:00 PM

ANKARA, Turkey, March 23 (UPI) -- Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced Saturday that he plans to visit Gaza next month.

Erdogan spoke a day after a telephone call with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who apologized for the killing of nine Turkish nationals on a Gaza flotilla in 2010, the newspaper Hurriyet reported. He said the visit would be part of an effort to move the peace process along.

"I may eventually visit Gaza and the West Bank in April," Erdogan said. "This visit would take place in the context of a general effort to contribute to the resolution process."

For decades, Turkey was one of Israel's few allies in the Middle East. But relations became strained in recent years, and the two countries withdrew their ambassadors after the 2010 incident.

Netanyahu said Israel would work with Turkey to improve conditions in Gaza, Today's Zaman said. Erdogan on Saturday said he would wait to see what happens before he restores full diplomatic ties with Israel.

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