Foreign Ministry chiefs of Turkey and Israel hold bilateral talks

Foreign Ministry chiefs of Turkey and Israel hold bilateral talks

Foreign Ministry chiefs of Turkey and Israel hold bilateral talks Senior Turkish and Israeli officials met in Ankara for the first time in nearly seven years on Feb. 1, seeking to find ways to further improve ties.

Turkish Foreign Undersecretary Ümit Yalçın and his Israeli counterpart Yuval Rotem met in Ankara for their two countries’ first political consultations session since 2010 Mavi Marmara crisis, which led to killing nine Turkish citizens in an Israeli military raid on a flotilla aiming to break the blockade on Gaza. Rotem was also scheduled to meet with members of Turkey’s Jewish community and with the governor of Istanbul during his stay.

Turkey and Israel, formerly close allies, reconciled last year and restored ambassadorial-level diplomatic ties, mending a deep rift caused by the deaths of 10 Turkish activists during the Israeli commando raid on a vessel that tried to breach the blockade on Gaza in 2010.

The aim of the three-day visit is to “continue developing bilateral ties and strengthen cooperation on the political, economic and cultural spheres,” an Israeli Foreign Ministry statement said on Jan. 31.

“The political dialogue sends a positive message on the commitment of both sides to deepen the relationship between the two countries,” read the statement, adding that the talks will also “allow for comprehensive discussion, after six years of … challenges, on the drastic changes in the region.”

Issues on the agenda between the two countries were evaluated during the talks, especially opportunities for cooperation in the fields of energy, the economy, culture and tourism, a Foreign Ministry official said. 

In political consultations, opinions were exchanged on developments in the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean, and the parties agreed on the importance of Turkey-Israel relations in terms of the stability and security of the region, the diplomat added.