Turkish president won’t meet Peres 20Sep10 September 21, 2010

Ma’an News Agency -  20 September 2010

Turkish President Abdullah Gul said Monday he would not be meeting with his Israeli counterpart Shimon Peres in New York due to a tight schedule, Turkish media reported

On Sunday, reports suggested the presidents would meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York, marking the first official meeting between Gul and Peres since Israel raided a Turkish-flagged aid vessel in international water in May, killing nine Turkish nationals on board.

Speaking to reporters in New York prior to his meetings in the UN, Gul said “we will not forgive Israel for those killed in the Israeli attack on the aid flotilla, even if Israel apologizes,” Turkey’s official Anatolia news agency quoted him as saying.

Highlighting the importance of the peace process, Gul said “the Middle East is not a matter restricted to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. This matter is, in fact, the source of problems in many other parts of the world. It is the biggest issue posing a serious threat to the world.”

Israel-Turkish relations have been strained following Israel’s raid of Mavi Marmara. Shortly after, Turkey called back its ambassador and withdrew from a series of war games with Israel. Turkey has called on Israel to apologize and to accept an independent probe into the raid, which it later reluctantly accepted.

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