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Obama says Israel, Turkey PMs speak on phone

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

US President Barack Obama said the Israeli and Turkish premiers held a rare telephone call on Friday, welcoming the move in a statement issued before he wound up a three-day trip to the Holy Land.

"I welcome the call today between (Israeli) Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu and (Turkish) Prime Minister (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan," he said, stressing the need to heal the deep rift since 2010 between Washington's two allies.

"The United States deeply values our close partnerships with both Turkey and Israel, and we attach great importance to the restoration of positive relations between them in order to advance regional peace and security," he said.

"I am hopeful that today's exchange between the two leaders will enable them to engage in deeper cooperation on this and a range of other challenges and opportunities," Obama said.

Once flourishing ties between Israel and its only Muslim ally Turkey deteriorated after Erdogan stormed out of a Davos panel with Israeli President Shimon Peres following Israel's war in Gaza in December 2008-January 2009, telling him: "You know well how to kill people."

Ties between Ankara and Israel reached a low point after Israeli commandos raided a Gaza-bound Turkish aid flotilla in the Mediterranean in May 2010, killing nine Turks on board.

The raid triggered a diplomatic crisis between Israel and Turkey and led to the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador in Ankara. Military ties were also cut.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130322/obama-says-israel-turkey-pms-speak-phone