Exploration Talks With Turkey Following Erdogan Setback

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters) -

Israel held unannounced diplomatic level talks with Turkey on Monday to explore prospects of restoring an alliance that was once central to U.S. Middle East policy but has deteriorated dramatically under Turkish leader Tayyip Erdogan.

An Israeli official told Reuters on condition of anonymity that Dore Gold, who was named director-general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry last month, had met his counterpart Feridun Sinirlioglu in Rome on Monday.

The official said it was too early to judge whether the meeting signalled an acceleration of reconciliation efforts.

“Certainly there is a sense that the situation in Turkey has shifted after the election,” the official said, referring to the AKP’s recent setback in parliament that has shaken Erdogan’s standing and undermined his plans for a more powerful presidency.

“But time will tell whether the new government there takes a more accommodating line on Israel than Erdogan.”

A spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry confirmed Gold had been in Rome but would not comment on any meetings held there.

Officials at Turkey’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment.