Turkish president says his country is ‘ready to cooperate with Israel against terrorism’


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that his country is “ready to cooperate with Israel against terrorism.”

Erdogan made the statement Wednesday in a telephone conversation with Reuven Rivlin, the Israel president’s office said in a statement.

Rivlin called Erdogan to thank him for his letter of condolence following Sunday’s terror attack in Istanbul in which three Israeli citizens were killed, and many others injured. He also thanked the Turkish president for taking care of the injured Israelis and for his assistance in repatriating the injured and the bodies of the victims.

Turkey-Israel relations have been strained for several years after a longtime alliance.

Erdogan told Rivlin he felt “deep sadness” at the killing of three Israeli tourists in Istanbul. He said he spoke with Turkish Chief Rabbi Ishak Haleva and the head of the Jewish community of Turkey, İshak İbrahimzadeh, in the aftermath of the attacks.

“I believe that against this terrorism we have to stand together with the international community and take a very, very firm stance, and increase our cooperation against all terrorist acts. In this regard we are ready to cooperate with Israel against terrorism,” Erdogan told Rivlin, according to the statement issued Wednesday afternoon by the President’s Office.

“The terrorist attack yesterday in Brussels is what we feared from the very beginning. There cannot be good terrorists or bad terrorists, they are all evil, we have to fight against evil and I want to thank you again for your call. We all pray that things like this will not happen again,” he also said.

Rivlin told Erdogan that “terror is terror, life is life, and blood is blood, whether it is in Istanbul, Brussels, Paris or Jerusalem. We must all stand together in the fight against this terrible evil.”

A car bomb exploded last week at a busy bus stop in the center of the Turkish capital of Ankara, leaving 37 dead and dozens wounded.

“Terror organizations and their pawns are targeting our innocent citizens in the most immoral and heartless way as they lose the fight against our security forces,” Erdogan said in a statement following that attack while vowing to bring “down terror to its heel.”

On Feb. 17, a car bomb attack in central Ankara killed 29 people. Separatist PKK militants claimed responsibility for both attacks.

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