Britain seeks to bolster ties with Turkey

Britain seeks to bolster ties with Turkey
# 08 July 2010 17:41 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. Turkey’s foreign minister said Thursday ties between his country and Israel won’t improve until Jerusalem accepts responsibility for a deadly raid on a Gaza aid flotilla, or agrees to an international investigation of the incident, APA reports quoting The Associated Press.
Speaking following talks in London, Ahmet Davutoglu clarified contested comments made earlier this week, in which he appeared to suggest Ankara would cut all diplomatic ties with Israel over the issue.
Turkey has already downgraded ties and withdrawn its ambassador to protest the Israeli raid on Gaza-bound aid ships, which killed eight Turks and a Turkish-American on May 31.
"We expect Israel either to apologize and accept the crime, or accept an international investigation," Davutoglu said Thursday, following talks with British Foreign Secretary William Hague.
"If they do not follow these two options, then Turkey — as a respected nation and state — has the full right to protect the rights of civilians, of citizens," he said.
Davutoglu said that if "Israel wants to improve relations with us, it needs to accept the accountability."
On Monday two newspapers in Turkey quoted Davutoglu as saying his country will cut diplomatic ties with Israel, though a government official later insisted the minister had been misquoted.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry says Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has said "Israel has no intention of apologizing to Turkey."
Hague and Davutoglu met Thursday at London’s Foreign Office after Britain’s new government pledged to make improving ties to Ankara a key priority under an overhaul of links to sometimes neglected allies.
The British minister said Prime Minister David Cameron would soon visit Turkey, and pledged to continue pressing members of the European Union to approve Ankara’s bid for membership of the bloc.
"This government is clear, for the EU to turn its back on Turkey would be an immense strategic error," Hague said.
The two minister planned to visit the British Library, and hold further talks on negotiations over Cyprus, the Middle East peace process and Iran’s disputed nuclear program.