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‘Herzog’s visit good for Turkey-Israel relations’

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ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has welcomed Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s upcoming visit to Turkey.

Speaking to journalists on the presidential plane on his way back from the United Arab Emirates, Erdogan on Wednesday said, “Such a step would be good for Turkey-Israel relations”.

The president’s comment came as two senior Turkish officials pay Palestine and Israel a two-day visit.

Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin and Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal arrived in Israel on Wednesday.

They will meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who heads the Palestinian Authority based in the occupied West Bank, along with Israeli officials.

“Our delegation will also meet with the Israeli authorities to discuss the preparations of the visit of Isaac Herzog, the president of Israel, to Turkey and will hold political consultations with Israeli authorities,” a Foreign Ministry statement said on Tuesday.

Israeli president’s office on Tuesday said Herzog was preparing to visit Turkey, in a rare trip that marks the latest sign of a thaw following years of frayed ties.

Turkey’s state-run TRT television reported the trip would take place on March 9 and 10.

In a TV interview last month, Erdogan said he expected Herzog to visit, hailing the trip as an opportunity to “open a new chapter in relations between Turkey and Israel”.

Relations between Turkey and Israel froze over after the death of 10 civilians in an Israeli raid on a Turkish flotilla carrying aid for the Gaza Strip in 2010.

In recent months, however, the two countries have been working on a rapprochement, with two leaders holding telephone talks.

Some analysts have linked the warming ties partly to former Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu’s ouster from office in June.

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