Ankara: – Turkey and Israel have agreed to rapidly reach a deal on normalising ties after a bitter falling-out in 2010, the Turkish foreign ministry announced early Friday after talks in London.
“The teams made progress towards finalising the agreement and closing the gaps, and agreed that the deal will be finalised in the next meeting which will be convened very soon,” the ministry said in a statement.
Israel’s foreign ministry, contacted by AFP, declined to comment.
The two sides held a fresh round of talks Thursday in a bid to repair ties between countries that were key regional allies until 2010, when Israeli commandos stormed a Turkish aid ship bound for Gaza.
Ten Turkish aid activists were killed in the storming of the Mavi Marmara, which led to years of bitter accusations between the two countries.
Ankara said the latest talks in London brought together powerful Turkish foreign ministry official Feridun Sinirlioglu, Joseph Ciechanover, an advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli National Security Advisor Jacob Nagel.
The two sides met in December in secret talks to seek a rapprochement, with another round of high-level talks taking place in February in Geneva.
Turkey had already said in February that the former allies were “close to concluding a deal”.
But they had yet to agree on all of Turkey’s conditions, with the main hurdle appearing to be the lifting of Israel’s blockade on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
Turkey has already received an apology for the storming of the Mavi Marmara, and talks have advanced on the subject of compensation for the victims.
Analysts have suggested that Turkey’s desire for a rapprochement has been accelerated by the drastic worsening in ties with Moscow since the shooting-down of a Russian warplane wrecked several joint projects.
Ankara relies on Russia for more than half its natural gas imports and Turkey now has its eyes on Israeli gas reserves.