SULAIMANI (ESTA) — The Prime Minister of Israel on Tuesday met with Turkey’s president for the first time in 14 years on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, the largest annual gathering of world leaders now underway in New York.
Israel’s Prime Minister Yair Lapid Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the latest sign of warming ties between the two regional powers after a long and bitter rift, according to Lapid’s office.
“Erdogan in the meeting commended the recent restoration of full diplomatic ties between the countries and the appointment this week of a new Israeli ambassador to Turkey,” it said.
Since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu left office last year, Erdogan has shown a willingness for warmer ties with Israel.
The scene of Lapid, the Israeli caretaker prime minister until new elections in November, warmly greeting Erdogan could bolster his diplomatic credentials as an alternative to Israel’s former Netanyahu.
Netanyahu has billed himself as a world-class statesman, but relations with Turkey deteriorated during his more than a decade in power.
Over years of strained relations, Erodgan has been an outspoken critic of Israeli policy toward the Palestinians.
Israel, in turn, has objected to Turkey’s embrace of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.
The once-close regional allies withdrew their respective ambassadors in 2010 after Israeli forces stormed a Gaza-bound flotilla carrying humanitarian aid for Palestinians that broke an Israeli blockade.
The incident resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish activists.
During their meeting in New York, Lapid thanked Erodgan for intelligence cooperation and brought up the issue of missing and captive Israelis, his office said.
The leaders also discussed energy cooperation, it added. Erdogan has expressed an interest in Turkey tapping into Israel’s offshore natural gas fields in the Mediterranean.
(Esta Media Network/The Associated Press)