Syria warns of Mideast instability amid Israel-Turkey crisis

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad warned Monday that the Israel-Turkey crisis could affect stability in the Middle East and undermine Ankara's role in the region's peace negotiations.

"If the relationship between Turkey and Israel is not renewed it will be very difficult for Turkey to play a role in negotiations" to revive the Middle East peace process, Assad said on an official visit to Spain.

This would "without doubt affect the stability in the region," the Syrian leader said, speaking alongside Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

Assad said "the real cause" of these setbacks for regional stability were "Israeli attacks", referring to the raid on May 31 on Turkish ships carrying aid to Gaza in which nine Turks were killed.

Turkey warned Israel it would cut ties unless it received an apology for the deadly raid, but the Jewish state said it will never say sorry for defending itself.

Ankara has also recalled its ambassador, cancelled military exercises with Israel and closed its airspace to Israeli military aircraft.

© 2010 AFP

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