Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced plans to cooperate on energy drilling operations with Israel during his recent trip to the United States for the UN General Assembly, where he also met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Turkey’s state broadcaster TRT reported on Thursday.
“Hopefully, we’ll start on energy cooperation with Israel, including drilling,” Erdoğan told reporters. “Not only will this benefit Turkey, but we will also begin operating energy transmission lines to Europe.”
The two leaders committed to increasing the trade volume between their countries. Currently $9.5 billion, they aim to grow it to at least $15 billion, TRT cited Erdoğan as saying. Along with energy, the Turkish president mentioned potential cooperation in the tourism and technology sectors.
The announcement follows Erdoğan’s first-ever meeting with Netanyahu on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The meeting included discussions on a broad range of topics, from international politics to developments in Israeli-Palestinian relations. Turkey’s foreign minister, energy minister and intelligence chief also participated in the talks.
In contrast to previous years, Erdoğan in his address to the UN General Assembly this year refrained from condemning Israel.
Ankara’s relations with Israel froze over an Israeli raid on a Turkish ship carrying aid into the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian territory, which killed 10 civilians in 2010.
A brief reconciliation lasted from 2016 until 2018, when Turkey withdrew its ambassador and expelled Israel’s over the killing of Palestinians during a conflict with Gaza.
This warming of ties comes after years of strained relations between the two nations, marred by diplomatic tensions and economic challenges. The development may mark a new phase in Turkey-Israel relations, especially considering both leaders have agreed to coordinate mutual visits in the near future.