erdogan - Reuters - October 17 2010
Recep Tayyip Erdogan Photo by Reuters
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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan does not want to talk with his Israeli counterpart and will not attend a climate change conference in Athens on Friday if Benjamin Netanyahu is there, he told Greece's Skai TV on Monday.

Turkey, once a close ally of Israel, has become a sharp critic since nine pro-Palestinian Turkish activists were killed in an Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound ship in May.

"A prime minister who is proud of such an armed intervention is a prime minister with whom I do not agree to talk," Erdogan told Skai TV before his planned visit to Athens.

"On this issue, I think that Israel is close to the point of losing a very important friend in the Middle East and that is Turkey," he said. "I think that they must pay for this audacity that characterizes the policy of this government."

Erdogan is due to attend a Mediterranean conference on climate change in Athens on Friday. "If the prime minister [of Israel] takes part in this event, I will not be there," he said in the interview, aired late on Monday.

Netanyahu's name was not on the list of speakers on the conference's website, and Israel was not among the countries whose participation was confirmed.