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Turkey appoints envoy to Armenia to normalize ties

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Turkey on Wednesday named a former ambassador as special envoy to work on the normalization of ties with arch-foe Armenia, Agence France-Presse reported.

Armenia and Turkey have never established formal diplomatic ties and their shared border has been closed since the 1990s.

The two countries’ relations are particularly tense over World War I-era mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, which Yerevan says amount to a genocide.

There were further strains after Turkey supported Armenia’s Caucasus neighbor Azerbaijan, which last year fought a war with Armenia for control of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

“With the authorization of the president, our former Washington ambassador Serdar Kılıç will be officially appointed as special envoy,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said in televised comments.

Kılıç was also previously Ankara’s envoy in Japan and Lebanon.

Turkish and Armenian companies had applied for permission for charter flights between İstanbul and Yerevan, he added.

The transport ministry will evaluate the applications and there would be more information in the coming days about which airlines could fly, Çavuşoğlu said.

“God willing there will be a continuation of these (steps),” he told Turkish reporters.

The minister was speaking during a visit to Abu Dhabi as ties between Turkey and the United Arab Emirates thaw following Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed’s trip to Ankara in November.

Çavuşoğlu said there were plans for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to visit the UAE on February 14-15.

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