Israeli President Isaac Herzog touched down in Turkey on Wednesday, kicking off the first official visit to the country by an Israeli leader since 2008. He went directly to the Presidential Complex in Ankara where he met with Russian President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for several hours.

“I believe that this historic visit will be a turning point in relations between Turkey and Israel. Strengthening relations with the State of Israel has great value for our country,” Erdoğan said.

Herzog said that he and the Turkish president exchanged views about events in Ukraine and in the Eastern Mediterranean.

“I believe that the coming period will bring new opportunities for both regional and bilateral cooperation,” the president added. “I hope that this important visit, taking place after so long, will provide an opening for future joint opportunities.”

Before boarding for Turkey, Herzog said at the airport that “Israel-Turkey relations are important for Israel, important for Turkey and important for the whole region. Certainly, at a time when the international order is being shaken, it is good and proper that stability and partnership be maintained in our region,” he said, adding that he had emphasized this during his visits to Greece and Cyprus in recent weeks.

“We will not agree on everything, and the relationship between Israel and Turkey has certainly known ups and downs and not-so-simple moments in recent years, but we shall try to restart our relations and build them in a measured and cautious manner, and with mutual respect between our states,” he said.

The president’s visit was coordinated with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

Herzog and Erdoğan, who invited the Israeli leader to visit, are expected to discuss various bilateral issues, including Israel-Turkey relations and the potential for expanding collaboration between their states and peoples in various fields, according to Herzog’s office.

The Israeli president’s wife, Michal, is traveling with him.

The couple is scheduled to meet with members of Turkey’s Jewish community in addition to their meetings with Turkish officials.

JNS

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