Turkey, Israel working on restore ties to ambassador level

Ankara: Turkey and Israel have started work to appoint ambassadors as part of efforts to normalise ties, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.

“We have started work for upgrading the diplomatic representation to the level of ambassadors,” Cavusoglu added on Thursday at a joint press conference with his visiting Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid in Turkey’s capital Ankara.

Turkey and Israel confirmed their determination to advance the positive dialogue between the two countries by taking concrete steps, he said.

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“We will continue mutual high-level visits in the short term. Bilateral political and regional consultations between our Foreign Ministries are important,” he added.

Turkey and Israel are in cooperation on security issues, said the Turkish Minister.

“We were in close contact regarding the terrorist threat against Israeli citizens in our country. Intelligence and information sharing between our institutions was constantly carried out. Our security institutions continue to work in close cooperation,” he added.

Cavusoglu stressed that Ankara would not allow such incidents to happen in Turkey, Xinhua news agency reported.

Last week, Lapid urged Israeli citizens in Turkey to leave “as soon as possible” because they faced “a real and immediate danger from Iranian agents”.

The Turkish Minister also thanked the Israeli Foreign Minister for visiting Turkey despite a current domestic political crisis in Israel, saying the visit shows the importance the latter attaches to ties with Turkey.

For his part, Lapid thanked Turkey for the security cooperation, noting “Iran’s conspiracy was prevented”.

“Turkey is the most important and most preferred tourism route for Israelis. I hope Israelis will continue to come to Turkey for a safe holiday in the coming days,” he said.

He added direct flights by the Israeli airlines will resume to Istanbul and Antalya.

The relations between the two countries were strained in 2010 when a Turkish-led flotilla attempting to break Israel’s blockade on the Gaza Strip clashed with Israeli forces, leaving 10 Turks on board killed.

In 2018, Turkey expelled the Israeli Ambassador after Israeli forces killed Palestinians during protests on the Gaza border against the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem.

Turkey and Israel have been working to mend their ties after years of enmity, including talks on exporting natural gas from Israel to Europe through Turkey.

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