ANKARA, Turkey — British Prime Minister David Cameron said the world needs Turkey's help in pushing Iran to address concerns about its nuclear program and criticized Israel's raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla that killed nine Turkish activists.
Cameron, addressing Turkish businessmen Tuesday, also declared that Britain was a staunch backer of Turkey's troubled bid to join the European Union. The visit — coming early in his term — was a measure of Britain's acknowledgment of Turkey as a critical ally in a conflict-prone region.
Cameron's strong reference to the Turkish aid flotilla was likely to please his Turkish hosts, though he said an Israeli inquiry into the May 31 incident should be swift and transparent. He later also backed Turkey's demand for an international inquiry into the raid.
"The Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla was completely unacceptable," Cameron said. In a reference to the Israeli blockade of the Palestinian territory, he said: "Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp."
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said all people in Gaza "are living under constant attacks and pressure in an open air prison." He said the Israeli commando raid in international waters "cannot be described in any other way but piracy" and wondered why the world acts against hijackings by Somali pirates but remains silent in the face of Israeli actions.