Last update - 02:56 12/10/2005
Turkish firm to build local power station
By The Associated Press
ANKARA - A Turkish company signed an agreement yesterday to build a $360 million power station in southern Israel. Ministry of National Infrastructure Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, who oversaw the signing of the deal between Turkey's Zorlu Energy Group and Israeli firm Solbar Industries, praised the deal as helping to strengthen ties between the Muslim and Jewish countries.
Turkish-Israeli trade is expected to reach $2.5 billion this year, not including military sales. Some 400,000 Israeli tourists are also expected to visit Turkey this year.
Israel regards ties with Turkey as crucial as it is one of the only Muslim countries to have close ties with both Israel and Arab countries.
Israel's goal "is to try and deepen and strengthen relations between Turkey and Israel," Ben-Eliezer said in an interview with The Associated Press. He pointed to the Pakistani-Israeli meeting in Istanbul, and said that Israel "would like to see Turkey continue" acting as a bridge "especially with the Islamic and Arab countries."
Relations cooled down last year after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused his Israeli counterpart of "terrorism," compared Israel's crackdown against Palestinians to the Spanish Inquisition, and said Israeli actions fuel anti-Semitism.
But ties recently improved, and Erdogan visited Israel earlier this year.