Israel apologises to Turkey over Syria air strike

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JERUSALEM, Oct 28 (Reuters) Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has apologised to Turkey after it protested at Israel's apparent use of its airspace for a bombing run in neighbouring Syria last month, a senior Israeli official said today.

''If indeed Israeli planes entered Turkish airspace, then there was no intention of undermining or questioning Turkish sovereignty, which we respect,'' the official quoted Olmert as telling cabinet ministers during their closed weekly session.

Israel has not given details on the Sept 6 air strike, which some analysts speculated may have targeted a nascent nuclear reactor.

Syria has denied having such a facility.

The discovery in Turkey of fuel tanks that had apparently been dumped by returning Israeli warplanes strained ties between the Jewish state and its only Muslim ally in the region.

Olmert met Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan in London last week. Israel's Channel 10 television said the Turkish leader pressed Olmert for a public accounting on the raid.

According to the Israeli official, Olmert apologised during his talks with Erdogan ''to the Turkish government and people, in the name of Israel, if indeed there was a violation'' of Turkish sovereignty by the Israeli air force.

REUTERS SS AS1938

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