No problems in ongoing Turkish-Israeli military cooperation: official

No problems in ongoing Turkish-Israeli military cooperation: official

There were no problems in Turkish-Israeli relations and in the ongoing projects carried out by the two countries, Turkey's undersecretary for the defense industry said on Monday.

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Recent media reports suggested some military projects between Israel and its main regional ally Turkey could be cancelled after ties between the two countries became strained over the latest Gaza operation.   

 

Turkey and Israel carried out several "long-term projects" and no last-minute changes could be made in any of them, Turkish Undersecretary for Defense Industry Murad Bayar was quoted by Anatolian Agency as saying at the International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX-2009) in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates.

 

"Turkey and Israel have mutual benefits in these projects. The projects are carried out within such framework," Bayar said.

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Relations between Turkey and Israel, who have close diplomatic and military ties, have been strained over Turkish and Israeli officials' remarks following the Jewish state's 22-day Gaza offensive.

 

In the latest incident, Ground Forces Commander Avi Mizrahi said earlier this month that Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who severely criticized Israel's military campaign in Gaza, "should first look in the mirror", and accused Turkey of "committing a massacre of Armenians, as well as suppression of the Kurds".

 

After Mizrahi's remarks, Turkey summoned the Israeli ambassador to the Foreign Ministry and handed a note of protest demanding clarification, while the military denounced them as "excessive, unfortunate and unacceptable".

 

The Israeli army chief telephoned last week his Turkish counterpart to apologize for Mizrahi's harsh remarks in an effort to prevent a deterioration in military relations with Turkey. Israel's Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi also sent an official letter to the Turkish General Staff regarding the issue.

 

Turkey and Israel conduct joint military exercises and have a strong partnership in military equipment and arms. Trade volume between Turkey and Israel was $2.6 billion in 2007 and some suggest $1.8 billion of this is attributed to military equipment trade.

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