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Türkiye, Israel working to restore ties to ambassador level: FM Çavuşoğlu

Türkiye and Israel have begun efforts to raise the diplomatic representation at relevant countries to the level of ambassadors, the Turkish foreign minister announced on Thursday. Stressing the significance of bilateral political and regional consultations, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu during a news conference with his Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid said the two countries will continue mutual visits as well as political negotiations at various levels.

Agencies and A News WORLD
Published June 23,2022

Türkiye and Israel have begun work on restoring their mutual diplomatic representation to ambassador level, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Thursday as the two countries seek an end to more than a decade of strained ties.

The two countries expelled ambassadors in 2018 and have often traded barbs over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Energy has emerged as a key area for potential cooperation as they strive to mend their relations.

"We will continue the high-level mutual visits in the short term," Çavuşoğlu said at a joint news conference with his Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid. "We have launched work on raising our diplomatic representation to ambassador level."

Çavuşoğlu said the Palestine matter was addressed during the meetings as Türkiye expressed its "expectations and sensitives" on the issue to the Israeli side.

He reiterated the need for a two-state solution, and urged to avoid steps that may harm the peace process between Israel and Palestine.

Referring to efforts to resume flights of the Israeli flag carrier to the Turkish metropolitan Istanbul and the Mediterranean resort city Antalya, Lapid told Çavuşoğlu: "It is very important that in the coming weeks, we finish the process that we began during your visit in Jerusalem, to allow Israeli Airlines to fly directly to both Istanbul and the Turkish coast (Antalya)."

Lapid was visiting Ankara after months of warming ties but amid worries voiced by Israel that its citizens could come under attack by Iranian agents in Türkiye, a NATO member state.

Çavuşoğlu said he and Lapid were in close contact regarding threats to Israeli citizens. Lapid thanked Türkiye for helping foil a suspected Iranian plot to harm Israelis in Istanbul and said the effort was still underway.

Israel has warned its citizens against traveling to Türkiye, citing suspected assassination or abduction plots by Iran, which has vowed to avenge the May 22 assassination of a Revolutionary Guards colonel in Tehran that it blamed on Israeli agents.

"In recent weeks, the lives of Israeli citizens have been saved thanks to the security and diplomatic cooperation between Israel and Türkiye," Lapid said. "We are confident that Türkiye knows how to respond to the Iranians on this matter."

Çavuşoğlu visited Israel last month to encourage expanded economic cooperation. It was the first such visit by a senior Turkish official in 15 years.

Through the years of acrimony, Türkiye and Israel have maintained trade, which stood at $6.7 billion in 2021, up from $5 billion in 2019 and 2020, according to official data.

Lapid is set to take over from Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the head of a caretaker government, after he and Bennett acted on Monday to dissolve parliament and hold an early national election.

Earlier, in March, Israeli President Isaac Herzog had visited Ankara and met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.