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Gates Accuses EU of Pushing Turkey Away from West

The EU's refusal to accept Turkey as a member swiftly has partly caused Ankara's foreign policy shift and the deterioration in its relations with Israel, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Wednesday.

"The deterioration in the relationship between Turkey and Israel over the past year or so is a matter of concern," Gates told reporters in London.

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Putin: Israeli Flotilla Raid Must Not Be Repeated, Iran Sanctions Ineffective

Israel's deadly raid on an aid flotilla for Gaza was a tragedy that demands detailed investigation and must not be repeated, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told Agence France Presse in an interview.

"What is especially tragic is that this act was carried out in neutral waters," the Russian prime minister said in a discussion late Monday in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi.

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Netanyahu: Israel Discussing Flotilla Probe but Soldiers Off Limits

Israel on Wednesday was discussing the format of an investigation into its deadly raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted soldiers would be off-limits.

Israel was in talks with "several members of the international community" about the investigation, Netanyahu said, stressing that it should focus on "the pro-Palestinian activists who fought the naval commandos with knives and clubs."

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Obama Meets Abbas, Says Mideast 'Progress' Possible This Year

President Barack Obama Wednesday pledged unwavering commitment to forge significant progress in the Middle East this year, despite the furor whipped up by Israel's raid on a Gaza aid flotilla.

Welcoming Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the White House, Obama promised the "full weight" of U.S. diplomacy on the latest crisis and to push Israelis and Palestinians out of a "dead end" and into direct peace talks.

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