Gaza panel investigating deadly Israeli ship raid will meet again in early September

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Initial discussions by a U.N. panel probing Israel's deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla took place "in a positive atmosphere" and more talks will be held in early September, the United Nations said Thursday.

The four-member international panel met for the first time Tuesday and held "substantive discussions" on the May 31 incident that killed eight Turkish activists and a Turkish American, U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

"The discussions were conducted with good cooperation and in a positive atmosphere," he said.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who appointed the panel, has asked for an interim report on Sept. 15.

Nesirky said the panel "will strive to produce" the report by that date.

Israeli commandos met unexpected resistance when they tried to prevent a Turkish aid ship from breaking Israel's blockade of Gaza and opened fire. Both countries said they acted in self-defense.

The flotilla raid drew an international outcry and forced Israel to ease its blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza. Israel, along with Egypt, imposed the embargo in June 2007 after Hamas militants took control of the area.

Nesirky has said the panel will review national investigation reports by Israel and Turkey and request "clarifications and information" it needs from the countries.

The panel is chaired by former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer, co-chaired by former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and includes Israeli representative Joseph Ciechanover and Turkish representative Ozdem Sanberk.