Israeli official heads to Turkey for meeting after 6 years

Tel Aviv, Jan 31 (IANS) A representative of the Israeli Foreign Ministry on Tuesday headed to Turkey, which, according to a ministry spokesperson, would mark the first diplomatic dialogue between the two countries in six years.

The nations signed an agreement in June 2016 to restore their diplomatic ties that were suspended since 2010, Efe news reported.

Foreign Ministry Director General Yuval Rotem is on a three-day visit to Ankara and Istanbul with the aim of developing “bilateral ties and strengthening cooperation in the political, economic and cultural spheres,” said ministry spokesman Emanuel Nahshon .

Turkey and Israel suspended relations in 2010 when Israeli troops killed 10 Turkish activists by opening fire on the Mavi Marmara ship, part of the “Freedom Flotilla” then attempting to break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.

In 2011 Ankara withdrew its ambassador from Tel Aviv and expelled the Israeli envoy to Turkey, but in June of last year, the two countries reached an agreement to end diplomatic tensions after Israel offered a formal apology, millions of dollars in compensation and permission for Turkey to send humanitarian aid to Gaza.

“The political dialogue sends a positive message on the commitment of both sides to deepen the relationship between the two countries,” Nahshon added.

This meeting will “allow for comprehensive discussion, after six years of challenges, on the drastic changes in the region,” the statement said.

Rotem plans to meet with his Turkish counterpart and other representatives, including the Governor of Istanbul, consular staff and leaders of the Jewish community in the country.