Israeli and Turkish officials are discussing compensation for victims of a 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla. On Sunday, US Secretary of State John Kerry asked Turkey's premier to postpone a trip to the Gaza Strip.
Negotiators met in the Turkish capital of Ankara Monday for talks they hope will help start the process of restoring full diplomatic relations. Turkey has said this would depend on compensation and on Israel's easing restrictions on Palestinians. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had been planning a trip to the Gaza Strip in May.
Top US diplomat John Kerry asked Erdogan to forgo that trip while in Istanbul on Sunday, saying it could distract from the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
"We thought that the timing of it is really critical with respect to the peace process we are trying to get off the ground, and we would like to see the parties begin with as little outside distraction as possible," Kerry said.
Although Israel and Turkey were once close allies, their relations plummeted in the aftermath of the 2010 raid by Israeli commandos on a Gaza-bound flotilla in which nine Turkish nationals were killed. The vessel, bound for the embargoed Gaza Strip, was in international waters at the time of the attack. Last month, Israel finally made a formal apology for the raid, a move strongly encouraged by US President Barack Obama.
Over the weekend, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel also made his maiden trip to Israel as Pentagon chief.
mkg/msh (AFP, AP)