* Turkey says Israel policies on Palestinians "intolerable"
* Ahmadinejad, Abbas, Putin, Assad at summit
By Simon Cameron-Moore
ISTANBUL, June 7 Turkey was expected to call at
a summit that opened on Monday for international punishment of
Israel for a bloody raid on a Turkish aid ship and push for the
lifting of its blockade on Gaza.
Leaders from Russia, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan are
attending the Eurasian and Middle East summit, but Israel is
sending a diplomat from its consulate rather than expose a more
senior figure to the fury over last week's killings.
Speaking ahead of the talks which include key enemies of
Israel, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Ankara
could no longer tolerate the policies of Israel, its once close
ally, towards the Palestinians.
"Turkey was one of the first countries recognising Israel,"
Davutoglu told CNN on Sunday.
"But now we cannot tolerate the policies of tension, the
policies of blockade against Gaza, the policies of punishment
... and the policy of attacking civilians in international sea,
international waters. That, we cannot tolerate."
While the forum, called the Interaction and Confidence
Building Measures in Asia (CICA), aims to dampen threats of
regional conflict, Israel's storming of the ship and the plight
of Palestinians are likely to dominate the summit.
Nine Turks were killed on Monday in the Israeli commando
raid on the Mavi Marmara, part of a six-vessel convoy that set
out to challenge the blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Israel has said its troops used lethal force in self-defence
after they were set upon by pro-Palestinian activists wielding
clubs and knives, but leaders of the Ankara government and the
Turkish public were infuriated by the killings.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said Israel must be punished
and that "nothing would ever be the same" between the two
nations, accusing Israel of breaking the biblical commandment
"thou shalt not kill".
Israel rejected on Sunday a proposal by U.N.
Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon for an international investigation
into the raid on the Gaza-bound ship and said it had the right
to launch its own inquiry.
TURKEY ON WORLD STAGE
Turkey, NATO's only Muslim member and a candidate to join
the European Union, has sought to raise its international
profile in recent years, mediating in conflicts from
Afghanistan/Pakistan ties to Iran's nuclear programme.
Critics say Erdogan's government, which has a hard core of
support among religious conservatives but strong backing in the
broader population, risks tilting too far towards stronger ties
with Middle East governments the West does not trust.
Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called for Israel to be
"wiped off the map", and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas are
among eight presidents at the talks, which kicked off on Monday
ahead of Tuesday's full summit.
President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, though not a member, is
attending as a guest.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai was expected to meet
Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Monday in a
trilateral spearheaded by Turkey to build confidence between two
deeply suspicious neighbours who are fighting Taliban militants.
The diplomatic momentum will continue on Wednesday, as Arab
League foreign ministers gather in Istanbul for the Turkish-Arab
Turkey, with Brazil's help, brokered an accord with Iran
last month for a nuclear fuel swap, in the hope of heading off
sanctions against a fellow Muslim neighbour, major trading
partner and key supplier of gas.
There will be an inevitable focus on any exchanges between
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Ahmadinejad, after the
Iranian leader sharply criticised the Kremlin for supporting a
draft sanctions resolution.
China will be represented at the Istanbul summit by State
Councillor Dai Bingguo, a high-ranking foreign policy official,
while India is sending a trade minister.
(Additional reporting by Ibon Villelabeitia. Editing by Peter