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Israeli government official visiting Turkey for U.N. confab

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JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli government minister is visiting Turkey for the first time since the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident, which left nine Turkish citizens dead.

Environmental Affairs Minister Amir Peretz arrived in Istanbul Wednesday for a four-day United Nations environmental conference on the Mediterranean Sea, according to news reports. The Turkish Foreign Ministry confirmed the Peretz visit, but stressed that the United Nations had issued the invitation.

Turkey downgraded diplomatic ties with Israel and then expelled Israel’s ambassador after the 2010 flotilla incident, in which Israeli troops killed nine Turkish nationals when it moved to stop the Mavi Marmara from breaking Israel’s blockade of Gaza,

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in March and representatives of the countries met for reconciliation talks in April and May. Those talks have stalled over several issues.

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