Turkish officials in Jerusalem ahead of Israeli visit

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Senior Turkish officials held meetings in Jerusalem Thursday ahead of a rare visit by Israeli President Isaac Herzog to Turkey, officials said.

“The parties discussed preparations for the visit of Israeli President Isaac Herzog to Turkey, bilateral ties between the two countries, as well as various regional issues,” Herzog's office and the Israeli Foreign Ministry said in a joint statement.

Herzog met with Ibrahim Kalin, senior adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as well as Sedat Onal, the deputy foreign minister.

“Turkey and Israel have broad influence in the region, and both have agreed that the rehabilitation of relations can contribute to regional stability,” the Israeli statement added.

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In a television interview last month, Erdogan said he expected Herzog to visit, hailing the trip as an opportunity to “open a new chapter in relations between Turkey and Israel”.

Turkey's state-run TRT television has reported the trip would take place on March 9 and 10, but Israel has given no confirmation of the date.

Erdogan has also said he was ready to cooperate with Israel on a gas pipeline project in the eastern Mediterranean.

Relations between majority-Muslim Turkey and Israel froze over after the death of 10 civilians in an Israeli raid on a Turkish flotilla carrying aid for the Gaza Strip in 2010, the Palestinian coastal enclave.

In recent months, the two countries have been working on a rapprochement, with Erdogan, a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause, holding telephone talks with Herzog.

In November, Erdogan also spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, in a rare exchange between the two countries, the first such contact between an Israeli prime minister and Erdogan since 2013.

The call that came a few hours after an Israeli couple held in Turkey for a week on suspicion of espionage were released.

Read more:

Turkey’s Erdogan signals thaw with Israel after years of tension

Israel president planning rare Turkey visit: Official

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