ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shows the way to Israeli President Isaac Herzog during a welcome ceremony on Wednesday.—AP
ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shows the way to Israeli President Isaac Herzog during a welcome ceremony on Wednesday.—AP

ANKARA: Israel’s president met Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Wednesday, in the first visit by an Israeli head of state to Turkey since 2007, as the countries seek to mend fractured ties.

President Isaac Herzog’s trip to the Turkish capital and Istanbul was planned weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine, but the conflict could feature at the talks, with both Israel and Turkey playing mediation roles in recent days.

But bilateral issues may dominate following more than a decade of diplomatic rupture between the Jewish state and Turkey, which is a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause.

“We will not agree on everything, and the relationship between Israel and Turkey has certainly known ups and downs and not-so-simple moments in recent years,” Herzog said before departing.

“But we shall try to restart our relations and build them in a measured and cautious manner,” he added, before a boarding a plane with “peace and cooperation” written in Turkish on its side.

After landing Herzog and Erdogan proceeded through an honour guard at the Mustafa Kemal Ataturk mausoleum, with Herzog writing an inscription that praised Turkey’s first president as a “visionary leader” for choosing “the path of collaboration.”

Relations between the two countries were frozen after the death of 10 civilians following an Israeli raid on the Turkish Mavi Marmara ship, part of a flotilla trying to breach a blockade by carrying aid into the Gaza Strip in 2010.

Published in Dawn, March 10th, 2022

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