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Turkey and Israel to bring natural gas to Europe

Turkey and Israel can work together to carry Israeli natural gas to Europe and the two countries will discuss energy cooperation during talks next month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.

“We can use Israeli natural gas in our country, and beyond using it, we can also engage in a joint effort on its passage to Europe,” Erdogan said on Friday on a return flight from Ukraine.

In an apparent easing of relations after years of tension, Erdogan said on Thursday that Israeli President Isaac Herzog would visit Turkey in mid-March.

“These issues will be on our agenda with Mr Herzog during their visit to Turkey,” Erdogan added. 

While Erdogan has spoken to Herzog amid tensions before, the Israeli presidency is a largely ceremonial role.

 In November, he spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, the first such call in years.

The two countries expelled their ambassadors in 2018 after a bitter falling-out. 

Ties have remained tense since with Ankara condemning Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and its policy toward Palestinians, while Israel has called on Turkey to drop support for Hamas which rules Gaza.

However, Turkey has been working to repair its strained ties with regional powers as part of a charm offensive launched in 2020. 

Erdogan on Wednesday met Nachirvan Barzani, the president of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region. 

Asked what was discussed, Erdogan said Ankara wants to sign a natural gas supply deal with Iraq and is holding talks on this.

“We have now taken the Iraq issue on our agenda. We are now thinking about it. There may be a supply on the natural gas side from Iraq to Turkiye,” Erdogan said, adding Barzani had promised to facilitate talks.

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