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Israeli, Turkish ministers reportedly meet

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli Cabinet minister met with Turkey’s foreign minister in Brussels to improve relations between the two countries, according to Israeli and Turkish reports.

The meeting Wednesday between Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, which was supposed to be secret, was first disclosed in a report Wednesday night by Israel’s Channel 2. Senior Israeli government officials reportedly confirmed the Channel 2 report and said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak had approved the meeting, the content of which remains shrouded in secrecy.

Each country reportedly has said the other initiated the meeting.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman reportedly angry was that he was not informed of plans for the meeting.

"The foreign minister takes a grim view of the fact that the ministry was not informed," a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry said, according to Haaretz. "It is a breach of all the proper procedures and a serious blow to the trust between the foreign minister and prime minister. Lieberman intends to sort this out thoroughly."

A Netanyahu aide met Thursday morning with Lieberman to explain the breakdown in communications and apologize, Ynet reported.

Turkey, Israel’s most important ally in the Muslim world, withdrew its ambassador to Israel and canceled several planned joint military exercises following Israel’s interception on May 31 of a Gaza-bound flotilla, which ended in the deaths of nine passengers. Relations between the two countries have been deteriorating since the monthlong Gaza war in 2008-09.

Turkey has demanded that Israel apologize for its raid on the flotilla and pay compensation to the families of the dead, who were all Turkish citizens. 
 

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