Turkey to send aid ships to Gaza on June 25

14:51, June 18, 2011      

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Turkey will send a new Gaza-bound aid flotilla on June 25 despite pressure from the United States, the organizer said here Friday.

Bulent Yildirim, head of the nongovernmental Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), said at a press conference the aid flotilla will set sail on June 25, but without the ship Mavi Marmara, which was subject to the deadly Israeli raid last year and has became the symbol of efforts against the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

"Ships will set sail from the European ports on June 25. Our goal is to have 15 ships but I think 10 of them are ready now," Yildirim said.

The ships will meet off Cyprus and then head for Gaza together, he said.

Mavi Marmara's failure to join the new flotilla was not due to any obstruction by the Turkish government, but some technical reasons as the ship was severely damaged during last year's raid, he said.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said earlier this month that the flotilla should be delayed until the impact of Egypt's planned opening of a border crossing with Gaza became clearer.

On May 31, the anniversary of the Israeli raid the ship, Israel said its military was preparing for stopping the new flotilla.

Source: Xinhua
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