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Mullen upbeat on Israel-Turkey ties

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The outgoing U.S. military chief voiced confidence in the survival of Israeli-Turkish ties.

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was asked during a news conference Monday about the regional ramifications should Jerusalem and Ankara not manage to mend relations ruptured by Israel’s lethal interception last year of a Turkish ship that tried to run its blockade on the Gaza Strip.

Mullen, who visited Israel last week to part ways before he retires, said he had been “reassured by the Israeli leadership that they’re working to strengthen the ties with Turkey.”

“I don’t see anything that would indicate that they don’t exist or wouldn’t in the future,” he added. “I think the importance of the relationship, certainly, between Turkey and Israel, as well as the United States and Turkey and the United States and Israel, is critical in that region.”

The Obama administration has urged the sides to end the dispute, though that may be difficult since Ankara is demanding that Israel apologize for the Mavi Marmara seizure, during which nine Turkish activists were killed in altercations with Israeli commandos, and end the Gaza maritime blockade.

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