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Published: Friday, 3/22/2013

Netanyahu apologizes to Turkey for errors in flotilla deaths


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to Turkish leader Recep Erdogan for the deaths of nine Turks on an aid flotilla to Gaza in 2010, a key step toward smoothing relations between their nations, U.S. and Israeli officials said.

Netanyahu called Turkey’s prime minister today from Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv as he met with President Barack Obama, according to Obama administration officials, who asked for anonymity because the call wasn’t made public.

Netanyahu told Erdogan that he regretted the incident had damaged relations and apologized for operational mistakes that led to the deaths, the officials told reporters traveling with Obama as he left Israel for a stop in Jordan. Erdogan accepted the apology and said wanted better relations between Israel and Turkey, according to the officials.

Obama discussed with Netanyahu this week the importance of repairing relations with Turkey, the officials said.

The Turkish-Israeli alliance, based on security ties stretching back decades, has been under strain in recent years, especially since the flotilla incident.

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