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Israeli president to visit Turkey this week as ties thaw

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Israeli President Isaac Herzog will travel to Turkey this week to meet his counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a sign of thawing ties, Agence France-Presse reported, citing his office on Saturday.

Herzog will be the first Israeli president to visit Turkey for a state visit since 2003. He will be received by Erdoğan in Ankara on Wednesday before continuing to İstanbul, where he will meet members of the Jewish community.

“The two presidents will discuss various bilateral issues, including Israel-Turkey relations and the potential for expanding collaboration between their respective states and peoples in various fields,” Herzog’s office said.

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

A 2015 reconciliation pact formally restored ties, but neither country returned an ambassador to post, with Erdogan frequently criticizing Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories.

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

In January, Erdoğan called Herzog’s planned visit an opportunity to “open a new chapter in relations between Turkey and Israel.”

Over the past two weeks, Herzog visited Greece and Cyprus to reassure them the rapprochement with Turkey would not undermine Israel’s ties with its Mediterranean neighbors.

Herzog’s office said the visit, which will end on Thursday, was coordinated with the foreign ministry and the prime minister’s office.

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