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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Turkey summons Israeli ambassador over spat


ANKARA, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned the Israeli ambassador on Tuesday for an explanation of Israel's recent criticism of Turkey, Turkish media reported.

Turkey's Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu has asked Ambassador Gaby Levy about Israeli Foreign Ministry's condemnation of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's remarks on Israel's offensive against the Gaza Strip, the semi-official Anatolia news agency reported.

Erdogan on Monday hit out at Israel for violating UN resolutions by launching military operations against the Gaza Strip. He also called on the international community to impose pressure on Israel for its possession of nuclear weapons.

In response to Erdogan's remarks, Israeli Foreign Ministry issued a statement, saying Israel respected Turkey and was interested in maintaining normal relations between the two states but expected the Turkish side to reciprocate with a similar approach.

During Tuesday's meeting, Sinirlioglu also expressed uneasiness over Israel's treatment of Turkish Ambassador to Israel Oguz Celikkol, who was summoned Monday by Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News reported on its website.

Ayalon made Celikkol sit on a sofa lower than his own chair and had no Turkish flags displayed during their meeting when he criticized a Turkish TV series called "The Valley of The Wolves," the newspaper said.

Israeli diplomats said the series, which depicted Israeli security forces kidnapping children and shooting old men, contained anti-Israel messages, according to the newspaper.

Relations between Turkey and Israel began to sour in December 2008, when Israel launched an offensive in the Gaza Strip.

In a rare move to protest the 22-day operation, Erdogan stormed out of a debate with Israeli President Shimon Peres at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland in January 2009.

Turkey banned Israel from participating in a NATO air force drill in October and later refused to censure a fictional television program that features Israelis killing Palestinians.

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