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Turkey welcomes Abbas after restoring Israel ties

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Turkey said Tuesday that its restoration of full diplomatic relations with Israel did not mean a shift in Middle Eastern allegiances as it welcomed Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, Agence France-Presse reported.

The Palestinian leader met President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for talks and a private dinner on his second visit to Turkey in a year.

The talks came just a week after Turkey and Israel sealed a rapprochement from a decade of rocky relations by announcing plans to reappoint ambassadors for the first time in four years.

Erdoğan has been a fervent supporter of the Palestinian cause who has branded Israel a “terrorist state.”

He held the veteran Palestinian leader by the hand while gingerly walking him down a turquoise carpet to his presidential palace before a welcoming guard.

“The steps taken in our relations with Israel will in no way diminish our support for the Palestinian cause,” Erdoğan later told a joint media event.

“Turkey defends its vision of a two-state solution on every platform, and we have clearly demonstrated our response to the Israeli attacks and civilian casualties.”

Abbas did not mention Turkish-Israeli relations in his comments but thanked Erdoğan for his past support.

“I would like to thank you for the close attention and hospitality you have shown us,” Abbas told Erdoğan.

“I would like to reiterate my gratitude for the fact that Turkey and the Turkish government are on the side of Palestine.”

Abbas’s visit is widely seen as an attempt by Turkey to show that it stood by old allies even as it repairs relations with more recent rivals.

Turkey has gradually mended fences across the volatile region as it seeks new deals and investments to help recover from its most profound economic crisis in more than two decades.

The warming with the Jewish state is accompanied by plans to restore direct flights by Israeli airlines between the two countries that could bring in more tourists to Turkey’s resorts.

Turkey is also hoping to revive an east Mediterranean natural gas pipeline project that won tentative backing from the United States last year.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Palestinian leaders also “want our relations with Israel to be normalized.”

“They also know that thanks to this dialogue, we will better defend the Palestinian cause,” he said.

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