Germany's Merkel Presses Turkey President to End Rift With Israel

President Abdullah Gul meets German Chancellor during four-day visit to Germany; Germany's interests in Middle East hurt by Israel-Turkey diplomatic crisis.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced concern Tuesday to Turkish President Abdullah Gul about the recent flare-up in tension between Turkey and Israel, German government sources said.

Gul visited Merkel at her Berlin office, one of his calls during a four-day visit to Germany, where 3.5 million people of Turkish origin make up the most visible ethnic minority.

Angela Merkel and Abdullah Gul - AP - 20.9.2011

Berlin has been dismayed that Turkey and Israel, both of them nations where Germany has key interests, are at odds with one another over bloodshed during Israel's May 31, 2010 boarding of blockade-buster ships bound for the Gaza Strip.

The sources said Gul and Merkel set out their own views on the controversy over whether Turkey should be allowed to join the European Union. Gul had repeated Monday in his public appearances that Turkey continued to seek full membership.

Officially, Germany is open to this, but Merkel's political party is only willing to grant Turkey a lesser form of association.

The two leaders discussed the full range of Turkish-German issues as well the Arab Spring revolts, the sources added.

After the meeting, Gul departed to the provincial city of Osnabrueck, the home town of German President Christian Wulff.

That visit was a return for the courtesy of Wulff's visit last year to Kayseri, Gul's hometown.

Gul arrived in Germany Sunday and remains there until Wednesday.