Turkish, Israeli diplomats to meet in Ankara on Feb. 1 on normalization process

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ANKARA, TURKEY - JANUARY 26: Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hüseyin Müftüoğlu delivers a speech during a press conference at the Ministry building in Ankara, Turkey on January 26, 2017. AFP

Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hüseyin Müftüoğlu said on Thursday that the Foreign Ministry undersecretary and his Israeli counterpart would meet on Feb. 1 in Ankara to discuss the normalization process of the two countries, whose relations deteriorated following a flotilla crisis in 2010 that resulted in the killing of 10 Turkish activists by Israeli commandos.

Speaking during a press conference on Thursday, Müftüoğlu said the two officials would draft a roadmap for an agenda of cooperation as part of the process.

He also said Tourism Minister Nabi Avcı would pay a visit to Israel for a tourism fair on Feb. 7-8, in the first high-profile visit to the country since the 2010 Mavi Marmara aid flotilla crisis.

Turkey and Israel normalized relations in August after the Turkish Parliament approved a deal for Israel to pay compensation to victims of the 2010 assault on the Mavi Marmara, a ship carrying humanitarian aid to the besieged people of Gaza.

Parliament in August approved a bill that instructed Israel to pay $20 million to the families as part of a normalization agreement between the two countries struck in July after a six-year freeze in relations.

In September, Israel deposited $20 million in the account of the Turkish Ministry of Justice as compensation for victims of the Mavi Marmara flotilla.

Israeli commandos stormed the Mavi Marmara while it was in international waters, killing nine activists on board and injuring 30. One of the injured activists subsequently died, bringing the death toll to 10.

Turkey demanded an official apology from Israel, compensation for the families of those killed and the lifting of Israel’s Gaza blockade. Three years ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed regret over the incident to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, then Turkey’s prime minister and now the country’s president.

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