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Netanyahu bars apology to Turkey

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused on Sunday to apologize to Turkey for a deadly Israeli raid on a Turkish-led flotilla bent on breaching Israel's Gaza Strip blockade — an incident that has battered a relationship once seen as a cornerstone of regional stability.

In his first public remarks since Turkey announced Friday that it would expel the Israeli ambassador over the affair, Netanyahu expressed Israel's regret for the loss of lives in the May 2010 raid and said he hoped to mend ties with Turkey, formerly Israel's closest ally in a Muslim world largely hostile to its existence.

Turkey had wanted Israel to apologize for the deaths and lift the embargo on Gaza, a Palestinian territory run by Hamas militants with a history of violence against Israel. Netanyahu said Israel, in trying to keep arms from reaching Gaza, had nothing to apologize for.

GERMANY

Liberal parties gain in state election

Parties on the German left prevailed in a regional election in the northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania on Sunday, with the center-left Social Democrats swept back to power and the Greens elected to the regional parliament for the first time, according to preliminary results.

The Social Democrats won 36 percent of the vote, six percentage points more than in 2006, preliminary results showed. The outcome signaled a continuing upturn in the party's fortunes on the regional level and provided it with a boost before the federal election in 2013.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union received 24 percent, down four percentage points from five years ago. Her government is grappling with the eurozone debt crisis and other challenges.

Elsewhere

DALLAS: Wildfires continued to spread Sunday across East and Central Texas due partly to high winds caused by Tropical Storm Lee and the passage of a cool front, authorities said. The fires have destroyed homes and forced evacuations in the parched sections of Texas.

Pakistan: Pakistan's interior minister on Sunday called on Afghanistan's president to help win freedom for about 30 boys held by the Pakistani Taliban. They were abducted in Afghanistan on Thursday after crossing into Kunar province on a day trip from their border villages.

England: About 1,200 McDonald's restaurants will this week begin displaying the calorie count of each food and drink item on their wall-mounted menu boards, as part of a government-led program to fight obesity and promote healthier eating, the chain said Sunday.

Times wires

Netanyahu bars apology to Turkey 09/04/11 [Last modified: Sunday, September 4, 2011 11:56pm]
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