Turkey's PM wants to visit Gaza

July 20, 2011 at 8:01 AM
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ANKARA, Turkey, July 20 (UPI) -- Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he might visit the Gaza Strip after his visit to Egypt later this month "if conditions are right."

Erdogan may visit the Gaza Strip during the month of Ramadan which starts on Aug. 1, an unnamed diplomatic source told The Hurriyet Daily News.

The source said Erdogan had initially planned to cross into Gaza from Rafah in Egypt during his visit Thursday but postponed the plan after the U.N. panel investigating the Israeli raid on the Turkish boat Mavi Marmara last Maysaid it would publish its findings Aug. 1. Nine Turkish activists were killed in the incident and the source said Erdogan expects Israel to apologize.

"If conditions are right, I will consider a visit to Gaza," Erdogan told reporters Tuesday, Today's Zaman reported.

In recent weeks Feridun Sinirlioglu, the undersecretary of the Turkish foreign minister, and Moshe Yaalon, Israel's deputy prime minister, have engaged in secret talks to try and resolve the issue whereby Israel will issue an apology and pay compensation to the families of the victims, Hurriyet said.

Israel has refused to apologize for the incident saying its actions were in accordance with international law and noted its troops encountered violence when they boarded the ship to prevent it from sailing toward Gaza to break the Israeli blockade.

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