Israeli defense minister heads to Turkey to relaunch security cooperation

Israeli defense minister heads to Turkey to relaunch security cooperation

Shafaq News/ Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz traveled to Ankara on Wednesday to meet his Turkish counterpart and relaunch security cooperation between the countries. Axios reported.

It's the first visit by an Israeli defense minister to Turkey in a decade.

The visit and the resumption of defense ties between the countries are another step in normalizing relations, which started more than a year ago.

According to t Axios, Gantz will meet Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar in Ankara on Thursday.

Israeli defense officials say the main issues that will be discussed are the bilateral defense ties, regional developments in Iran and Syria, and tensions between Turkey and Greece.

During Gantz's visit to Azerbaijan several weeks ago, President Ilham Aliyev and the Azerbaijani minister of defense said Israel should resume security cooperation with Turkey, Israeli officials said.

The Israeli officials said Turkey and Israel are Azerbaijan's top security partners, and Baku's government wanted to see its two allies working together. Axios added.

After the Baku visit, a senior Israeli ministry of defense official traveled to Ankara for talks and agreed on renewing the dialogue between the two defense ministries, Israeli officials said.

This paved the way for Gantz's visit to Ankara.

Ahead of the trip, Gantz spoke to his Greek counterpart and briefed him on the goal of the visit, Israeli officials said.

Greek officials say they are very concerned by Turkey's escalating rhetoric and threats against Greece in recent weeks. They expect Israel to send a message to Turkey about the need for de-escalation.

Israeli defense officials said they plan to raise the issue during Gantz's visit to Turkey.

Israeli defense officials said Gantz's visit and the relaunching of talks between the defense ministries are the first step and stressed the process would be gradual and slow.

The officials noted that military-to-military cooperation is still suspended, and so are weapon sales to Turkey. "This will take time," they said.

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