Turkey and Israel edge closer to agreeing compensation deal

The two states are nearing a deal on compensation for the victims of the 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, Minister Davutoglu says

The two states are nearing a deal on compensation for the victims of the 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, Minister Davutoglu says

ANKARA - Turkey and Israel are edging closer to normalizing their bilateral relations for the first time since an Israeli raid in 2010 killed eight Turkish nationals, and an American of Turkish origin in international waters, Turkey Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Sunday.

Davutoglu said that the countries were negotiating a deal for compensating the victims of the attack, which had caused international outrage.

"The compensation will be an important step. The current period marks the point where we are closest to normalizing relations," Davutoglu said during a televised program where he addressed current issues in Turkish foreign policy.

The minister added that the deal could pave the way for sending aid to the Gaza Strip, which the raided flotilla had intended to do before it was stopped by Israeli commandos.

Regarding the Cyprus dispute, in which a fresh start to negotiations is expected on Tuesday, Davutoglu said the Turkish side had displayed the political will to resolve the long-standing issue of division between Turkish and Greek Cypriots.

"This problem cannot last for decades. There needs to be a lasting resolution in Cyprus this time," he said.

The parties have agreed to begin a new episode of negotiations in pursuit of a resolution that has proved elusive for four decades. Following their UN-mediated meeting on Tuesday in Lefkosa, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus President Dervis Eroglu and Greek-Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades are expected to issue a joint declaration on the path towards the reunification of the island.

A deal to join the Turkish and Greek communities in 2004, put forward by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, had fallen by the wayside when Greece voted `no` at a Cyprus-wide referendum. Since then, intermittent talks have been inconclusive due to political and economic reasons.

On Syria, Davutoglu said during an AK Party meeting on Sunday that Turkey would continue to support the humanitarian efforts.

A first round of talks in Geneva between the Syrian opposition and the regime delegations last week saw the sides agree on a ceasefire to allow the delivery of aid into the besieged city of Homs.

"There are still people being starved to death in Homs. How can we remain silent?" Davutoglu said.

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