Turkey dismissed on Sunday evening a news report suggesting that an Israeli delegation set to arrive in Ankara on Monday would hold talks about Israel using a Turkish airbase to train for a possible attack on Iranian nuclear facilities.
The report, which appeared in the Sunday Times, said that National Security Council chairman Yaakov Amidror would offer missiles and advanced technology to Turkey in exchange for Ankara’s allowing the Israeli Air Force to use a base located approximately 1,000 miles from the border with Iran.
However, a Turkish official denied the report, telling the Turkish daily Hurriyet, “The report seems to have explained a hypothesis.”
“We have already said that the normalization of our relations will be step by step. Talking about the prospects of a military cooperation at this stage would be irrelevant. We are not there yet. We haven’t even yet appointed a new ambassador to Israel,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Amidror will head an Israeli delegation to Ankara that will begin discussions over compensation to families of those who died in clashes during the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident.
The Sunday Times report alleged that in addition to the Marmara talks, Amidror was also assigned to try to resuscitate a 1996 agreement between Jerusalem and Ankara which allowed the Israeli Air Forces to train in Turkish airspace and use the Akıncı airbase.
Turkey recently delayed the beginning of talks with Israel over compensation for the Marmara flotilla.
The talks were delayed until Monday because Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc had to accompany Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on a trip to Kazakhstan on the originally scheduled date.
Arinc, who will lead the negotiating on behalf of Turkey, told the Hebrew-language NRG news site last week that “Turkey anticipates full restoration of relations with Israel. I will lead the Turkish delegation for negotiations with Israel next week on restitution for the nine Mavi Marmara victims.”