Merkel tells Israeli, Turkish leaders of 'deep concern'

31st May 2010, Comments 0 comments

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday she had telephoned the leaders of both Israel and Turkey to express her "deep concern" over Israel's raid on an aid convoy bound for the Gaza Strip.

"I spoke... on the phone with Israeli Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu, as well as with Turkish Prime Minister (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan, and I made clear my deep concern," Merkel told reporters in Berlin.

Merkel added that she had indicated to the two leaders that "we must do everything in our power, in this difficult situation, to make sure there is no escalation."

Expressing "shock" at the loss of life, Merkel called for a comprehensive "clearing-up" of the situation surrounding the deadly raid and added that international observers could help to accelerate this.

She also called for "information as soon as possible" about the fate of six German citizens, including two members of parliament who were on board the convoy.

Earlier Monday, Merkel's spokesman had said that Israel's actions appeared at first glance to have been disproportionate.

"Every German government has always recognised and supported the right of Israel to defend itself, but this right must of course be within the boundaries of proportionality," the spokesman, Ulrich Wilhelm, told reporters.

"This basic tenet is a key part of international law ... At first glance it does not look like this basic rule was adhered to," he told a regular briefing.

The raid reportedly killed up to 19 people, many of them Turks, and sparked a flurry of international condemnation of Israel.

© 2010 AFP

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