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Netanyahu tells Erdoğan ‘ties improving’ in first face-to-face meeting

The Turkish leader supports Israel-Saudi normalization, sources say.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan meet at the Turkish House in New York, Sept. 19, 2023. Photo by Avi Ohayon/GPO.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan meet at the Turkish House in New York, Sept. 19, 2023. Photo by Avi Ohayon/GPO.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday met for the first time in person on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly general debate in New York.

Netanyahu told Erdoğan that “our ties are improving,” and the two leaders agreed to continue advancing bilateral relations in trade, economic matters and energy, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

During the discussion held at Turkish House, a 36-floor skyscraper located across from U.N. headquarters, the two men also talked about the U.S.-led effort to forge an agreement to normalize relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, among other regional and international issues.

Erdoğan on Monday said that he supports Israeli-Saudi normalization, sources told the London-based Middle East Eye news site.

“Turkey views the normalization attempts between the two countries positively,” the Turkish president said, according to two sources who attended a closed-door briefing with analysts and journalists in New York.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Netanyahu thanked Erdoğan for the cooperation between Israeli and Turkish security services to thwart a plot by an Iranian-led terrorist cell in May of last year to target Israelis visiting Istanbul.

The pair extended invitations to visit Israel and Turkey, respectively, and it was agreed to coordinate the visits that will take place soon.

Netanyahu also met on Tuesday with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Paraguayan President Santiago Peña. Netanyahu is expected to meet with U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday ahead of the premier’s address to the General Assembly on Friday.

During the first leg of his weeklong U.S. trip, his first visit to the country since being voted back into office on Nov. 1, 2022, Netanyahu met with billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk in California.

Netanyahu will remain in New York over Shabbat, flying back shortly before the start of Yom Kippur on Sunday evening.

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