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Normalization deal at upcoming talks depends on Israel, Turkish Foreign Minister says

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Wednesday said that reaching a deal at upcoming talks with Israel to normalize relations downgraded after a 2010 Israeli raid on a Turkish vessel heading to Gaza depended on steps taken by the Jewish state.

“Whether a deal can be reached at the first upcoming meeting depends on the steps to be taken by Israel,” Cavusoğlu told a news conference in Ankara. He did not give the date of the meeting although press reports have said it would be on Sunday.

Çavuşoğlu said, Turkey’s talks with Hamas were not conducted secretly, emphasizing that lasting peace in the region cannot be achieved without Hamas.

“Turkey’s demands are very simple, they must be met…Aid must reach Gaza,” the foreign minister said.

Relations between Turkey and Israel hit an all time low after Israeli commandos staged a botched pre-dawn raid on a six-ship flotilla in May 2010 as it tried to run the blockade on the Gaza Strip.

Nine people on board the Turkish-owned Mavi Marmara ferry were killed, with a tenth person later dying of his wounds, sparking a bitter diplomatic crisis. All 10 were Turkish nationals.

Two of Turkey’s key conditions for normalisation — an apology and compensation — were largely met, leaving its third demand, that Israel lift its blockade on the Gaza Strip, as the main obstacle.

Çavuşoğlu also Wednesday touched upon the upcoming Brexit vote, saying that Turkey wants Britain to stay in EU “under any circumstances”.

He said, it was not right that Turkey’s status as a candidate to join the European Union was being used as an argument in the Brexit campaign.

“It is not right that the issue of when Turkey will become a member of the EU is used in the Brexit campaign. Turkey has never been a burden on the EU,” Çavuşoğlu said.