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Israel, Turkey have 'a thousand reasons' to be friends: Peres

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Israel and Turkey have "a thousand reasons" to be on friendly terms again following an air-clearing apology over the deaths of nine Turks in a 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla, Israeli President Shimon Peres said on Turkish television Sunday.

"I can think of a thousand reasons why Turkey and Israel should be friends; I cannot find one reason why they shouldn't be friends," Peres said in an interview with CNN Turk.

The diplomatic rift between the two former allies was sparked by the botched raid by Israeli commandos on the aid ship heading to the Gaza Strip. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin apologised on Friday to Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan for what Peres called a "misunderstanding".

"I think somehow both countries wanted to put an end to this misunderstanding and return to the good relations that have existed between Turkey and ourselves for many good years," he said.

Peres said both nations, which will now resume full diplomatic ties, were united in their concerns over the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria.

"Unluckily the chemical arsenal remains. It is a danger to the people of Syria, to Lebanon, to the whole world. Everyone feels uneasy. It's not a simple problem. Turkey, being a leading force in the region, is worried like we are."

Asked whether he would soon be able to make up with Turkish President Abdullah Gul, Peres replied: "It can happen soon. I mean, we never interrupted the relations with Turkey."

While Erdogan welcomed the apology, the move has been criticised by the Islamist Hamas movement that governs the Gaza Strip and Israel's former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130324/israel-turkey-have-thousand-reasons-be-friends-peres