Erdogan: Turkey Will Cooperate With Israel in Fight Against Terrorism

Turkish and Israeli presidents share condolences in first high-level conversation between leaders of the two countries in three years.

A man prays at the scene of a suicide bombing at Istiklal street, a major shopping and tourist district, in central Istanbul, Turkey March 20, 2016.

President Reuven Rivlin spoke by phone with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday afternoon and thanked him for his letter of condolence on the deaths of three Israelis in a terrorist attack in Istanbul last Saturday.

Erdogan stressed during the conversation that Turkey was prepared to cooperate with Israel in the fight against terrorism.

Rivlin initiated the six-minute call and coordinated it with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two leaders spoke only about the Istanbul terrorist attack and did not discuss the ongoing negotiations over a reconciliation agreement between the two countries.

It was the first high-level conversation between Erdogan and a senior Israeli official since the telephone call three years ago in which Netanyahu apologized for the deaths of Turkish citizens in the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident.

Erdogan stressed the “deep sadness" he felt at the killing of three Israeli citizens who were in Istanbul on a tour of the city. 

"After the incident I immediately instructed the related agencies to do all that was necessary to help, and immediately the governor of Istanbul, the minister of interior, the foreign ministry and health ministry officials were mobilized to help in the recovery," Erdogan said.

"I also felt that our own Jewish community, which is an integral part of our society, provided all necessary help. I also spoke with the Chief Rabbi Ishak Haleva and the head of the Jewish community shak brahimzadeh.”

Rivlin expressed his condolences to the Turkish president and all the people of Turkey. "I want to thank you for all the care you have taken for all our citizens, and for your help in bringing the victims back to Israel with dignity," he said.

"Terror is terror, life is life, and blood is blood, whether it is in Istanbul, Brussels, Paris or Jerusalem," Rivlin said. "We must all stand together in the fight against this terrible evil.”

Erdogan agreed, saying that “we have to stand together with the international community and take a very, very firm stance, and increase our cooperation against all terrorist acts."

"In this regard, we are ready to cooperate with Israel against terrorism.”