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Israeli President visit to be new turning point in relations: Erdogan

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ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he believed Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s visit to Turkey will be a “new turning point” in long-strained relations between the countries.

While Isaac Herzog has said that his country’s relations with Turkey are important to enhance stability in the region.

“Turkey is ready to cooperate with Israel in the energy sector,” Erdogan told reporters in a joint news conference with Herzog after their meeting in Ankara on Wednesday.

Erdogan said that both sides have discussed prospects of exporting Israeli gas to Europe through Turkey.

Strengthening relations with Israel is of great importance for regional stability, peace as well as for both countries, he added.

“Our common goal with Israel is to revive political dialogue between our countries based on common interests, respect for mutual sensitivities,” Turkish president said.

Israel’s Herzog also said he believes relations with Turkey will be based on “mutual respect” from now on.

“Our aim is to lay foundations for development of friendly relations between Turkey, Israel and their peoples,” Israeli president said.

Earlier, Israeli President Isaac Herzog has said that his country’s relations with Turkey are important to enhance stability in the region.

“Good relations with Turkey are important to Israel and to the entire Middle East,” Herzog said upon departure to Turkey from Ben Gurion Airport.

“We won’t agree on everything […] relations between Israel and Turkey had some difficult moments over the years,” Herzog said.

Herzog, who landed in Ankara Wednesday afternoon, is set to meet Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his two-day visit.

The two leaders will have a meeting at the presidential complex following an official welcoming ceremony in the capital Ankara.

Erdogan and Herzog are expected to discuss several bilateral issues, including Israeli-Turkish ties, and the potential to enhance cooperation in various fields.

Herzog also will meet with members of the Jewish community in Istanbul, before returning to Israel on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Turkish and Israeli trade missions gathered in Tel Aviv to sign a memorandum of understanding ahead of the visit.

Israeli officials have said that Herzog and Erdogan may discuss prospects of exporting Israeli gas to Europe through Turkey, a notion raised by Erdogan in January, amid fears of impaired supply following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

As the US administration withdrew support from the EastMed gas pipeline project that was signed by Israel, Greece, and the Greek-administered Cyprus on January 2, 2020, for the transport of Israeli natural gas to the European market via the Mediterranean Sea and Greece, Ankara reiterated over and over its readiness on cooperation to carry Israeli gas to Europe via Turkey.

Last month, President Erdogan emphasised on his way back from Ukraine visit that “we can use Israeli natural gas in our country, and beyond using it, we can also engage in a joint effort on its passage to Europe.” He added that these issues will be on their agenda with Herzog during his visit.

In 2018, Turkey had recalled its ambassador in Tel Aviv over the deadly attacks against Palestinians in the blockaded Gaza, who were protesting the US administration’s decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Many experts consider the Israeli president’s two-day historic visit to Turkey as a turning point for the Ankara-Tel Aviv relations, which have seen ups and downs for nearly a decade.

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