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Barak. Concerned
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Barak: Turkish-Syrian drill 'disturbing'
Defense minister says joint military exercise launched by Turkey, Syria on Monday alarming, but believes Israel-Turkey strategic relations will prevail. Barak also says Israel committed to bringing Gilad Shalit home

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that the joint Turkish-Syrian maneuver launched Monday was a "disturbing development."

 

Turkey and Syria staged their first joint military exercise, with the aim of boosting ties between the two countries’ land forces.

 

However, Barak added that he "believes the strategic relations between Israel and Turkey will transcend Turkey's need to take part in this exercise."

 

According to the Turkish military, "The aim of the exercise is to boost friendship, cooperation and confidence between the two countries’ land forces, and to increase the ability of border troops to train and work together."

 

'Peace out primary interest' 

Meanwhile, the defense minister visited on Monday the Families and Commemoration branch at the Tel Hashomer IDF base. During the visit Barak said, "Our heart is with Gilad Shalit and the other missing soldiers. We are committed to do whatever we can in order to have him returned home, and the earlier the better."

 

On Monday Gilad Shalit's father Noam was scheduled to leave for the United States, where he will meet with administration officials and Jewish community representatives. Shalit will seek help with promoting his son's release.

 

During his visit Barak also referred to the issue of peace negotiations with Syria, and said: "the State of Israel's primary interest is to reach a settlement with its neighbors, including the Syrians, while protecting in any way possible Israel's vital security interests."

 

News agencies contributed to the report

 

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