Timing was right for Israel’s apology to Turkey, Obama says

President Barack Obama reviewed the National honor guard with Jordan King Abdullah II (not pictured) upon his arrival at Al-Hummar Royal offices in Amman, Jordan March 22, 2013.


President Barack Obama reviewed the National honor guard with Jordan King Abdullah II (not pictured) upon his arrival at Al-Hummar Royal offices in Amman, Jordan March 22, 2013.

AMMAN, Jordan — President Barack Obama said the timing on his trip to Israel was right for Turkey and Israel to start restoring normal diplomatic relations.

That process started Friday after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and apologized for errors that resulted in deaths of activists aboard a Gaza-bound flotilla in 2010. Obama, who was in Israel, brokered the call. He said Netanyahu agreed it was the right moment.


Obama said he’s long felt it was important the two countries restore good relations so they can pursue common interests. He said Turkey and Israel don’t have to agree on everything to be able to work together on regional security and other issues.

After years of holding out for a public apology for the deaths, the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, accepted Israel’s gesture in the phone call.

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In a statement, Obama welcomed the call, saying, ‘‘the United States deeply values our relationships 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.’’

The two leaders agreed to continue to work to improve the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories.

On Friday evening, Obama landed in Jordan, where he is likely to confront pressure to help that financially struggling country cope with a desperate tide of refugees fleeing the civil war in Syria.


It is Obama’s first visit to an Arab state since the Middle East erupted in unrest two years ago, toppling leaders in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen, and plunging Syria, Jordan’s neighbor, into civil war. He is scheduled to hold talks with King Abdullah of Jordan later Friday.

Diplomacy aside, Obama spent his last day in Israel making pilgrimages to symbols of the Holocaust, modern Zionism, the Middle East peace process, and Christianity.

Israeli newspapers were enthusiastic about the visit, saying the nation had fallen for Obama, but cautioning that his call for peace would not be easy to follow.

''The most powerful man in the world arrived in the most threatened state in the world to promise love,’’ columnist Ari Shavit wrote in the left-leaning Haaretz. ‘‘He gave us love every single second, in every speech and in every gesture.’’

Palestinians, by contrast, were mostly disappointed.

‘'President Obama is eating, sleeping and chatting with people in Israel while he is spending few hours with Palestinian politicians,’’ said Said Kamal, a shopkeeper in Ramallah.


Materials from the Associated Press were used in this report.

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