Israeli President Isaac Herzog confirmed on Wednesday that he will visit Turkey, suggesting a warming relationship between the two countries after several years of strain.
Herzog confirmed the Turkey trip at Wednesday's climate conference held by Haaretz and Hebrew University. "In the coming month, I am due to visit our Mediterranean coast neighbors Greece, Cyprus and Turkey, and meet their leaders," he said at the conference.
With these three countries, as well as with Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and the Palestinians, Herzog said he wants to forge "regional cooperation in the fight against climate change," calling this possibility "an opportunity of historic proportions."
Though Herzog's role is largely ceremonial, he has been reinforcing Israeli diplomacy aimed at improving ties with Ankara, where there has been censure of Israel's policies toward the Palestinians.
Last week Herzog welcomed a senior Turkish delegation visiting Israel, in a further sign of better ties between the countries. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Turkey is looking forward to Herzog's forthcoming visit, and previously said energy cooperation will be discussed.
"We had positive phone conversations with the president of Israel, Mr. Herzog, on various occasions," Erdogan said during a visit to the United Arab Emirates Wednesday, according to the Turkish Daily Sabah. "He is expected to visit our country in March. Of course, we welcome this visit. Hopefully, taking such a step after a long hiatus will be good for Turkey-Israel relations."
Turkish media have given March 9-10 as the dates for Herzog's trip.
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Herzog is also slated to visit Greece Thursday in an apparent bid to reassure Turkey's foes, Greece and Cyprus, that its relations with those countries will remain steadfast.
Combating climate change has been put on the national agenda by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's government in a way that surpasses efforts of previous administrations. Last summer, Israel's cabinet unanimously approved an ambitious plan to cut greenhouse emissions by 85 percent by 2050.
Still, many important clauses in the initial plan fell by the wayside due to heavy pressure by the Energy Ministry and the budgets department of the Finance Ministry. Under the Paris Climate Accords, Israel was obligated to declare its reduction goals by 2020, but failed to do so due to opposition from various government ministries to many of the plan’s provisions.