US hopes to "de-escalate" rising Turkey-Israel tensions
The United States hopes to "de-escalate" rising tensions between Turkey and Israel over the killing last year of nine Turkish activists aboard a Gaza-bound ship, a US official said Tuesday, dpa reported.
US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the US wants "both of these strong allies of the United States to get back to a place where they have a good working relationship with each other."
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday declared additional retaliatory measures against Israel after ejecting Israel's ambassador and cutting military ties. He released a report stating that trade and military relations between the two nations would be frozen.
The intent however was not clear, after his staff told Turkish broadcaster NTV that his statement regarding heightened sanctions might have been taken out of context.
Nuland said the US was "concerned about the state of the relationship today" and wanted to avoid future confrontations.
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met recently in Paris with Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu in Paris, and US emissaries have been meeting with Israel on the issue, Nuland noted.
On Friday, Turkey expelled Israel's ambassador to Ankara. It then cut joint military ties.
These two moves were the country's diplomatic response to a United Nations report, which described Israel's storming of a ship containing Turkish protesters on 31 May, 2010 as "excessive" but "legal."
Erdogan on Tuesday also announced the broad outlines of a plan to step up Turkey's marine presence in the Eastern Mediterranean.