Turkish Official Says His Country is Not Cool Toward Israel

Yosmatin Celebi, a member of the Turkish Senate visiting Israel, said that his country was interested in maintaining friendly ties with all nations and that he was not aware of any Turkish coolness toward Israel. Celebi, a former Istanbul radio news director, was interviewed on the Israeli radio during a tour of its studios.

He stressed that his visit to Israel–the first in a long time by a Turkish political figure–was private. But he conceded that it did have certain political significance. Turkey, a Moslem country has been neutral in the Arab-Israeli conflict. But Ankara has kept a low profile with respect to its relations with Israel.

Celebi observed in his interview that Israel is an existing fact and Turkey’s neighbor. But he insisted that his visit had nothing to do with current affairs. He said he had no details regarding the fate of two Arab terrorists who attacked an El Al plane at Istanbul Airport last month because he was out of the country at the time of the incident. However, he said the terrorists should be tried in Turkey before their extradition is considered, if at all.

Israel said after the airport assault that it would seek to extradite the terrorists, but subsequently announced it will not do so. The two terrorists have been formally charged with murder and the prosecution will ask for the death penalty. Meanwhile, they are being held in custody pending trial.

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