Turkey pulls out of Munich conference to avoid Israeli delegation

ANKARA. KAZINFORM - Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Friday pulled out of a security conference in Munich at the last minute, saying he did not wish to attend a joint session with an Israeli delegation.

Relations between Israel and Turkey remain strained since a major rupture in 2010, when Israeli soldiers killed nine Turks travelling in a Turkish-led humanitarian aid convoy attempting to break a blockade of Gaza. "I was going to attend the conference but we decided not to after they added Israeli officials to the Middle East session at the last minute," Cavusoglu told a news conference in Berlin, where he has been meeting Turkish ambassadors based in Europe. Withdrawing from the meeting was nothing to do with Turkey's relationship with Germany, he said in the remarks broadcast by Turkish state television TRT. Despite being major trading partners, Israel and Turkey - former allies - frequently engage in bitter verbal exchanges. President Tayyip Erdogan, an outspoken advocate of the Palestinian cause, last year likened the actions of Israel to those of Hitler, in comments that led Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accuse him of anti-Semitism. Last month Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in turn likened Netanyahu to the Islamist militants who killed 17 people in Paris, saying both had committed crimes against humanity, Euronews reported Friday.

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