Israeli FM to visit Turkey amid fears of Iranian attacks

Leader of the Yesh Atid opposition centrist political party Yair Lapid holds a press conference. Photo: Ilia Yefimovich/dpa/IANS

Tel Aviv, June 20 (IANS) Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid is to visit Turkey on Thursday, amid months of thawing ties and fears that its nationals could become a target for Iranian attacks, his office announced.

During his visit, Lapid is expected to meet his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, the office said in a statement, without providing further details, reports Xinhua news agency.

Cavusoglu visited Jerusalem in late May to boost bilateral economic ties, the first of its kind by a Turkish minister in 15 years.

In a joint press conference then, Lapid hailed Cavusoglu’s visit as the opening of a “new chapter” in the relations between the two countries.

Lapid’s visit will take place amid concerns by security agencies that Iran could attack Israeli nationals in Istanbul and possibly other cities in Turkey.

On June 13, Israel’s National Security Council Counter-Terrorism Bureau issued a “level 4” travel warning for Istanbul, the highest level possible, citing concerns of “revenge attacks” over the killing of Hassan Sayyad Khodaei, an Islamic Revolution Guards Corps colonel on May 22 in Tehran.

Iran believes he was assassinated by Israeli forces.

Turkey and Israel have been working to mend their ties after a decade of enmity, with discussions on cooperation in exporting natural gas from the Jewish state to Europe via Ankara.

Ties between the two countries have been strained since Israel’s deadly assault on a Turkish-led flotilla to the besieged Gaza Strip in 2010.

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