After Six Years: Israel, Turkey Renew Strategic Dialogue

Turkish cabinet minister due in Israel next week in highest level visit in a decade.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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Turkish ambassador to Israel Kemal Okem, center left, at Israeli president's residence to present  his diplomatic credentials on December 12, 2016.
Turkish ambassador to Israel Kemal Okem, center left, at Israeli president's residence to present his diplomatic credentials on December 12, 2016. Credit: RONEN ZVULUN/AP
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

Israel and Turkey held their first strategic dialogue in six years on Wednesday.

Officials of their respective foreign ministries met in Ankara, completing another stage in normalizing relations since their reconciliation agreement of several months back.

In the latest talks, the countries agreed that two Turkish cabinet ministers would visit Israel in the coming weeks – including the first visit by a Turkish minister in more than a decade, likely to take place next week.

The dialogue had its beginnings in 1987. Fifteen rounds have been held, but the talks were frozen for six years after the crisis caused by the deadly incident involving a Turkish flotilla that tried to reach Gaza in May 2010.

Heading Israel's talks was Foreign Ministry director-general Yuval Rotem and for the Turkish side, their ministry's director general, Umit Yalcin. Rotem arrived in Turkey on Tuesday for a several day visit for talks in both Ankara and Istanbul.

A closing statement said the sides discussed cooperation between Israel and Turkey in the fields of energy, economics, culture and tourism. Both sides agreed to boost their contacts via business, academic and cultural delegations.

They decided that the Turkish tourism and economy ministers would visit Israel in the coming weeks. The tourism minister is expected to arrive in Israel next week.

"Both sides viewed developments in the wide region, particularly in the Middle East and eastern Mediterranean, and reaffirmed the importance of better Turkish-Israeli relations for the stability and the security of the region," according to the statement.

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