JERUSALEM, Israel – Turkey appears to have heeded U.S. calls to back off its anti-Israel rhetoric, which followed the May 31 confrontation aboard the blockade-busting Turkish flagship Mavi Mamara.
A delegation in Washington, led by Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu, assured senior U.S. State Department and defense officials that Turkey is committed to maintaining friendly ties with Israel, the Turkish daily Zaman reported on Thursday.
According to the Anatolia news agency, the Turkish officials called the confrontation an incident between “two friends,” which did not affect Turkey’s relations with the Jewish state or its people, but was rather an issue with the Israeli government.
Nine pro-Palestinian Turkish activists were killed in fighting that ensued after Israeli navy commandos were attacked boarding the ship.
Despite video footage and eyewitness reports confirming that the soldiers acted in self-defense, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has demanded an official apology and compensation for the victims’ families.
According to the Turkish officials, if Israel conceded to Erdogan’s demands, the incident could be put behind them.
Other areas discussed in Washington meeting included the Iranian nuclear program, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East, the Balkans and U.S.-Turkish bilateral relations, according to Anatolia.
The Turkish delegation expressed concern over Turkey’s less-than-favorable standing among U.S. congressmen.
According to the report, the Obama administration has had a hard time convincing Congress “to accede to Turkey’s demand for the purchase of weapons.”