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Turkish PM Wishes to Visit Gaza

Turkey's prime minister said on Tuesday he was considering visiting the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, a move likely to anger Israel amid diplomatic efforts to overcome already strained bilateral ties.

"If the conditions allow, I'm thinking of visiting Gaza," Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters. "The foreign ministry will be working on it. I wish to make such a visit, depending on the outcome."

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Israel Likely to Apologize to Turkey over Flotilla Raid

Israel will probably soon apologize to Turkey for a 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla which left nine Turkish activists dead, a senior Turkish diplomat said Tuesday.

"I would be surprised if there were no apologies since both sides have the political will to resolve this crisis," said ambassador Ozdem Sanberk, a member of the U.N. panel probing the Israeli raid.

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Haaretz: Israeli Defense Ministry Mulling to Apologize from Turkey over Flotilla Raid

Israel's defense establishment wants to see ties with Turkey repaired, even supporting an apology to Ankara for a bloody 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, Israel's Haaretz daily reported Sunday.

Relations between the former allies have been in tatters since the military operation, in which nine Turkish activists were killed when Israeli commandos raided a flotilla trying to breach a blockade on the Gaza Strip.

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U.S. Urges Cyprus Solution 'As Soon As Possible'

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Saturday for a speedy solution to Cyprus' long-standing division.

"We don't think the status quo in Cyprus benefits anyone," Clinton said at a joint press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Istanbul.

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Contact Group Recognizes Libya Rebels as 'Legitimate Governmental Authority'

The Libya contact group recognized Friday the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) as the country's "legitimate governmental authority," according to a statement seen by Agence France Presse.

The group of major Western and regional powers also urged "all relevant parties" to make efforts "for the formation of an interim government to ensure a smooth and peaceful transition of power," said the statement, to be formally issued at the end of a meeting in Istanbul later Friday.

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Russia: Gadhafi has 'Suicide Plan' to Blow Up Capital

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has a "suicidal plan" to blow up the capital Tripoli if it is taken by rebels, the Kremlin's special envoy to Libya told a Russian newspaper Thursday.

"The Libyan premier told me: if the rebels seize the city, we will cover it with missiles and blow it up," Kremlin envoy Mikhail Margelov said in an interview with the the Izvestia daily.

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Turkey's PM Announces New Cabinet

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan Wednesday unveiled Turkey's new cabinet after his Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) won a third straight term in power in the June 12 elections.

Apart from Erdogan, the line-up included 25 ministers, both outgoing cabinet members and newcomers.

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Ahmadinejad Urges Arab Leaders to Accept Reform

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urged Arab governments to heed popular demands for reform at a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, the presidential website said on Tuesday.

"Today, the people of the region must enjoy equal rights, the right to vote, security and dignity, and no government can deprive them of freedom and justice or refuse their peoples' demands," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying.

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Syrian Refugees Return Home from Turkey

The number of Syrian refugees in Turkey fell to around 8,500 as hundreds decided to return home over the weekend, Turkish officials said Monday.

Some 238 Syrians went back to their country over the last two days, lowering the total number of refugees in Turkey to 8,579, the country's disaster and emergency management agency said on its website.

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Turkey Wants Cyprus Referendum in Early 2012

Turkey hopes that accelerated peace talks in Cyprus will lead to a referendum on reunification early next year; Anatolia news agency quoted Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu as saying Saturday.

"We expect and hope that a comprehensive settlement is found to the Cyprus problem by the year-end, a referendum is held in the beginning of 2012 and a united Cyprus takes over the EU presidency in July 2012," Davutoglu said in the Turkish sector of Cyprus' divided capital Nicosia.

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