Barak visits Turkey in bid to repair rift


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with the Turkish defense and foreign ministers in an attempt to repair strained relations.

Barak arrived Sunday in Turkey for a visit scheduled before last week’s diplomatic dispute in which Israel’s deputy foreign minister publicly embarrassed the Turkish ambassador over an anti-Israel television series before apologizing days later.

Relations between Israel and Turkey have been strained since Israel’s military operation last winter in Gaza.

Barak visited Turkey despite a petition filed by a Turkish human rights organization asking the state prosecutor to arrest the Israeli official for war crimes stemming from Operation Cast Lead.

Barak and Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul announced several joint Israeli-Turkish security projects during a news conference Sunday afternoon in Ankara.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon apologized on Jan. 13 for calling in Turkish Ambassador to Israel Ahmet Oguz Celikkol and embarrassing him in front of television cameras in the wake of a verbal attack on Israel by the Turkish prime minister and a new anti-Israel Turkish television drama, the second such show broadcast in several months.

Celikko was made to sit on a lower chair than Ayalon and the table between them only displayed an Israeli flag. Ayalon did not shake the Turkish envoy’s hand.

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