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Turkey, Israel 'close' to accord in compensation talks

Update: May, 07/2013 - 11:44

JERUSALEM – Turkish and Israeli officials have come "close" to a deal on compensation for the Jewish state's deadly 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla after talks in Jerusalem on Monday, the Israeli premier's office said.

"The meeting was positive," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said in a statement "The two teams have a project but clarifications are still needed on some issues.

The two sides expect to reach an accord in the near future," it said, without giving details.

Israeli television also gave a positive account of the meeting held at the foreign ministry.

"An accord has not yet been signed but most questions have been settled. The number of outstanding points is so limited that it's not sure another meeting is needed," Channel 10 private television said, quoting diplomatic sources.

A final deal is "very close," it said.

An initial meeting in Ankara on April 22 focused on the amount and the terms of Israel's payment of compensation to the families of nine Turkish nationals who died in the raid, which Turkey has named as a precondition for normalisation of diplomatic ties.

It was the first stage of what Turkish officials have said would be a multi-step diplomatic process aimed at reinstating bilateral ties between the former close allies who fell out over the raid.

Monday's talks saw Turkish diplomats pay their first official visit to Israel for the first time in three years since Israeli commandos staged a botched pre-dawn raid on a six-ship flotilla seeking to bust Israel's naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli negotiating team was led by National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror and special liaison for Turkish reconciliation Joseph Ciechanover, an official said.

Following the first round of talks, Ankara said "initial parameters" were set and a framework established, but the amount of compensation was still to be discussed.

The maritime assault severely wrecked relations between the former regional allies, with Ankara demanding a formal apology and compensation for the families of the raid victims, as well as the lifting of Israel's blockade on Gaza.

Compensation talks finally began in late March, after Israel extended a formal apology to Turkey to get the rocky relations back on track.AFP

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