Israel’s Defence Minister Ehud Barak travelled to Turkey on Sunday to try to smooth over recent tensions that have further frayed the traditionally strong ties between the two countries. The visit came after a difficult week between Israel and its strongest Muslim ally: Turkey had threatened to recall its ambassador after Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Danny Ayalon, sought to humiliate him over a Turkish television show that angered the Israelis. During the visit, Mr. Barak called Mr. Ayalon’s behaviour “a mistake,” and both countries sought publicly to put the episode behind them.
“Although we do not have common borders, we have common interests,” Vecdi Gonul, the Turkish Defence Minister, told reporters after meeting with Mr. Barak. “We will continue working together as long as we have common interests.”
Mr. Gonul praised the two countries’ sharing of defence technology and expressed eagerness in pursuing an M-60 tank modernisation project, which would involve production in Israel and modification in Turkey. He reiterated that 10 Israeli unmanned aircraft were to be delivered as scheduled in the coming months, as part of the long-pending cooperation deal signed in 1996. — © 2010 The New York Times News Service