Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman,despite recent budget cuts, has arranged to open a new Israeli embassy in Turkmenistan, which shares a border with Iran. The decision follows secret talks with Turkmen officials.

Israel established diplomatic ties with Turkmenistan, a Muslim state, 17 years ago when it broke away from the former Soviet Union. However, there has not yet been an Israeli embassy in the country. Instead, the Israeli ambassador to Turkmenistan has traditionally visited the country frequently while continuing to reside in Israel.

The embassy will be located in the capital city of Ashgabat, and an Israeli delegation will leave this week to select a building.

Western nations have showed an interest in closer ties with Turkmenistan in recent years, an interest that may be motivated by the country's strategic borders. Besides its border with Iran, Turkmenistan shares borders with Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and has a shore on the Caspian Sea.

Its location along the Caspian Sea has made Turkmenistan a strategic partner with oil giant Russia in producing natural gas, which is transported via the Caspian line. Turkmenistan has an estimated 100 trillion cubic feet in gas reserves.

Another possible factor in warming ties with Turkmenistan is the country's most recent ruler, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. He is considered more moderate than his predecessor, and under his rule Turkmenistan has established a constitution and permitted the establishment of opposition parties.