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Turkey, Israel to Exchange Ambassadors Soon | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A Turkish flag flutters atop the Turkish embassy as an Israeli flag is seen nearby, in Tel Aviv, Israel June 26. Reuters

Ankara-Turkey and Israel will complete the process of exchanging ambassadors within 10 days, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said on Friday, a key step in a process of normalizing ties ruptured six years ago.

The two countries normalized ties in June after a 2010 crisis triggered by Israel’s storming of a Gaza-bound aid ship that killed 10 Turks, prompting Ankara to expel the Israeli ambassador and freeze all defense ties.

In 2013, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed regret over the incident in a telephone conversation with then Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan after mediation by U.S. President Barack Obama.

The two sides finally agreed in June to end the bitter six-year rift after long-running secret talks in third countries with Israel offering $20 million in compensation, an apology over the raid and permission for Turkish aid to reach Gaza.

In the first official step after the normalization of ties, Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz made on Thursday a visit to Turkey.

He discussed with his Turkish counterpart Berat Albayrak in Istanbul building a gas pipeline to pump Israeli gas to Europe.

“What we decided is to establish immediately a dialogue between our two governments… in order to examine the possibility and the feasibility of such a project,” said Steinitz.

Meanwhile, two rockets, apparently aimed at a fuel tanker, hit a fish store and open ground near a resort town in the province of Antalya in southern Turkey on Friday and did not cause any casualties, the privately owned Dogan news agency reported.

It said the rockets were fired from a mountainous area near the road between the city of Antalya and the resort town of Kemer.

No party claimed responsibility for the attack.

Three Turkish soldiers were also killed and 12 were wounded when three separate roadside bombs hit military vehicles in Turkey’s largely Kurdish southeast, security sources said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the sources said Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants were suspected of having planted the bombs.

The bomb which killed the three soldiers was set on a road between the provinces of Diyarbakir and Mardin. The two others were in the provinces of Van and Hakkari and wounded 12 soldiers, two of them critically, the sources said.