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Israel offers help after Turkish earthquake

    President Abdullah Gul
    President Abdullah Gul

    Israel was among the first countries to offer support to Turkey following the devastating earthquake in the east of the country.

    The death toll from the disaster has reached above 200 people and there are fears it could rise significantly.

    Armenia, which also has a tense relationship with Turkey, also offered assistance. However Turkey has so far said it does not need any foreign assistance.

    Israeli President Shimon Peres contacted his Turkish counterpart, President Abdullah Gul, on Sunday to offer condolences and aid, including search-and-rescue teams, food, medicine, medical staff and equipment..

    Mr Peres said that Israel shared Turkey's sorrow for the tragedy and added: "The state of Israel is ready to render any assistance that may be required anywhere in Turkey, at any time."

    He said: "I speak as a man, as a Jew and as an Israeli who remembers, and is well aware of, the depth of the historic relations between our two peoples.

    "Thus I send the condolences of the entire nation to the families of those who lost their lives."

    Israel and Turkey have previously offered aid in times of crisis, from a 1999 earthquake in Turkey to last year's forest fires in Israel's Carmel forest region.

    But relations between the two countries soured last month after Turkey demanded an apology for the deaths of activists on board the flotilla to Gaza in May 2010.

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