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Turkish PM Freezes Military Trade, Ties With Israel


Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced a freeze in defense trade and ties with Israel amid a dispute with the Jewish state.

Erdogan was quoted as saying by Anatolia news agency that "we are totally suspending our trade, military, defense industry relations."

His office later clarified that Erdogan did not mean a suspension in trade overall but only trade ties "in the defense-industry area."

Erdogan also said Turkey is stepping up naval patrols in the eastern Mediterranean.

The move follows the expulsion of Israel's ambassador over its refusal to apologize for the 2010 raid on a flotilla of activists heading for Gaza, in which nine Turkish activists were killed.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, speaking during a tour of an Israeli army base in the Golan area on September 6, urged restraint on both sides.

"Israel and Turkey are the two strongest and most important nations at the present time in the region," Barak said, "and even when we have disputes, and we have several disputes, we should act out of our heads, not out of our guts, on both sides, and I recommend it very strongly both to ourselves and to our Turkish neighbors."

A UN report has concluded that Israel used "excessive force" in its raid but that the naval blockade of Gaza was legal.

Turkey has vowed to take the case to the International Court of Justice.

Erdogan on September 6 also reiterated his intention to visit the Gaza Strip, possibly early next week, after a stop in Egypt.

compiled from media and agency reports

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