IDF Chief of the Staff Ashkenazi traveled to Ankara Monday morning for talks with Turkish defense officials, the army said.

The visit is the first to Turkey by an Israel army chief for five years and follows a diplomatic crisis that saw a near-total breakdown in relations between the countries.

Ashkenazi will take part in an international NATO conference on terrorism and international cooperation but is also expected to hold high-level talks with Israel's traditional military ally on Iran, Syria and Lebanon, according to an Israel Radio report.

Ties hit a low point earlier this year after Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon summoned Ankara's ambassador to explain an anti-Israeli program aired on Turkish television.

At the meeting, which was open to the press, Ayalon deliberately humiliated the envoy by seating him on a lower chair, sparking an angry Turkish response.

Israel has since sought to mend relations with its closest friend in the Muslim world.

The last visit to Turkey by an IDF Chief of the General Staff, Gen. Dan Halutz, was in December 2005.