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Davutoglu Says Turkey May Soon Normalize Frayed Ties WIth Israel

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said his country and Israel may soon renew diplomatic ties suspended following the 2010 Israeli naval raid on a Gaza Strip-bound flotilla that killed nine Turks.

Davutoglu told Turkey’s A Haber television station yesterday that the nations were still discussing financial compensation for those killed in the clash aboard the Mavi Marmara ship as it tried to break Israel’s sea embargo of Gaza.

“An important step will be taken with the compensation,” Davutoglu said. “We’re living through a period in which we are closer than ever to normalizing ties after the Mavi Marmara.”

While significant progress has been made in the negotiations, Israeli is still seeking guarantees from Turkey that the soldiers who took part in the naval raid be granted immunity from any future criminal prosecution, according to a person familiar with the talks.

The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined to comment on the talks with Turkey, as did the Foreign Ministry. Israeli newspaper Haaretz said last week that Netanyahu’s government has offered Turkey $20 million in compensation, citing unidentified Western diplomats.

Netanyahu apologized to Erdogan last March for “any mistakes that might have led to the loss of life or injury” aboard the ship. Israel says the naval blockade is intended to prevent arms shipments to Gaza militants, and that its soldiers fired on the Turks after they were attacked with by activists aboard the ship.

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