World Bulletin / News Desk
Turkey's foreign and defense ministers met Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday who in an attempt to repair ties that have been further damaged this week by a diplomatic insult in which Israel "apologized" for its ill-treatment of the Turkish ambassador.
But, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul, will not meet the Israeli minister, citing programmes outside Ankara.
Barak's visit comes after a diplomatic row between Turkey and Israel caused by Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon's insult to Turkish ambassador in Tel Aviv Oguz Celikkol.
Ayalon who summoned Celikkol to express Israel's uneasiness over a Turkish TV-series showing Israeli agents kidnapping a child, had Celikkol sit at a lower armchair in front of a table with only the Israeli flag on it, denying him an handshake in front of the press.
Ayalon's snub violating all diplomatic manners drew strong reaction from Turkish officials, and strained relations to the point of breaking.
The diplomatic crisis ended when Israel apologised with a letter after repeated calls from Turkey which warned otherwise that it would withdraw its ambassador.
In a goodwill gesture, Barak asked his personal photographer to take a picture of him with Celikkol, the state-run Anatolia news agency said. Celikkol had returned to Ankara for Barak's visit.
Barak and Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu held a 3 1/2-hour meeting. The Israeli defense minister later met with his Turkish counterpart, Vecdi Gonul.
Hours before Barak's departure, Ayalon threatened Turkey, saying the Turkish ambassador could be expelled if Turkish TV dramas continue to depict Israeli soldiers as brutal.
Before the departure to United Arab Emirates, Erdogan told a news conference on Sunday, "Ayalon crossed the line. We, as govenment, accepts Barak's statements on the issue. Turkey will not let any one play with itself."
Barak told joint news conference with his Turkish counterpart Vecdi Gonul, said the humiliation of the Turkish ambassador to Israel that sparked the crisis on Monday was "a mistake."
Erdogan also said that they would not bring the issue further.
Gonul said that Turkey and Israel lived in the same region.
As long as we have identical interests we will continue to work together (with Israel), Gonul said.
During our talks, we have agreed that eradication of tensions in the region carried vital importance for permanent and comprehensive peace and stability, Gonul said.
Barak, in his part, said that certain developments, affecting the Turkish-Israeli relations, took place recently.
We left those developments behind "for the sake of peace and stability in the region", Barak said.
Turkey is in talk for the purchase of 10 Heron drones in a deal worth $180 million, officials on both sides said.
In response to a question on the unmanned aircraft that Turkey would procure from Israel, Gonul said that Israel would deliver 10 unmanned planes to Turkey within the year 2010.
An Israeli official on Sunday told Reuters news agency, the deal "looked close to being finalised". Turkey has no drones of its own.
"I believe they're wrapping things up now. A compensation fee has been paid, and the delivery of the first four drones is expected by April," the official said.
Turkey is also awaiting delivery of $141 million worth of warplane camera pods from Israel, a sale that was signed shortly before the Gaza war, an Israeli defence source said.
Turkey awarded a contract in 2005, ordering 10 drones from Israeli manufacturers Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Elbit. Both contractors agreed with Turkey to pay fines as they breached deadlines for delivery, Anadolu news agency said last week.
Related news report:Last Mod: 18 Ocak 2010, 11:57