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      Turkey Blocks Meeting of NATO Group which Includes Israel

      Despite Israel’s recent apology, Turkey has declined to agree to a meeting of NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue group, which includes Israel.
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 4/17/2013, 5:42 AM

      Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
      Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
      AFP/File

      Despite Israel’s recent apology for the deaths of nine Turks on the Mavi Marmara, Turkey has declined to agree to a meeting of NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue group, which includes Israel and six Arab countries, Turkish diplomats told Defense News.

      The diplomats said that Egypt also declined to convene the group for the first time in five years. A NATO official in Brussels declined to comment.

      The Mediterranean Dialogue, founded in 2004, is intended to contribute to regional security. Along with Israel and Egypt, the other participating countries are Morocco, Tunisia, Mauritania, Algeria and Jordan.

      Turkey nixed the meeting despite Israel's apology for the Mavi Marmara incident.

      Turkey previously rejected Israeli participation in a NATO summit in Chicago last May. It also rebuffed an Israeli request to have a permanent office at NATO, noted Defense News.

      Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated last week that Turkey will not re-establish diplomatic relations until Israel lifts its blockade on Gaza, the report said.

      Erdogan said on Sunday he plans to visit Gaza in mid-May.

      He originally planned to visit the Hamas terrorist-ruled region soon after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu formally apologized to him, but postponed the visit due to U.S. pressure.

      In February, before Netanyahu’s apology, Israel agreed to allow Turkey to ship building materials to Gaza, despite Ankara's attempts to block the Jewish State’s participation in NATO activities.