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Iran Press TV

Moscow, Ankara step up measures to smooth ties: Turkish deputy PM

Iran Press TV

Mon Jun 27, 2016 9:47AM

Turkish deputy prime minister says his country and Russia have stepped up measures to normalize ties soured since last November.

During a televised news conference in the capital Ankara on Monday, Numan Kurtulmus welcomed what he said was a decision to allow some Russian companies to employ Turkish nationals again.

Russia's relations with Turkey strained in November 2015 after Turkey shot down a Russian Su-24M Fencer aircraft with two pilots aboard, claiming the fighter jet had repeatedly violated the Turkish airspace.

Moscow dismissed Ankara's claims, saying the plane was brought down inside Syria, where Russia has been conducting combat sorties against Takfiri terrorists since late September 2015 upon a request by the Damascus government.

Following the incident, Moscow imposed a number of sanctions on Ankara, including import restriction on Turkish foods, a ban on tourist travel to Turkey, an embargo on hiring Turkish citizens in Russia and a ban on Turkish organizations' activities in Russia.

Turkey and Russia have also taken different positions regarding the crisis in Syria, with each of them backing opposite sides in the deadly conflict.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Kurtulmus touched on a recent reconciliation deal between Turkey and Israel, saying a "certain point" was reached in normalizing bilateral ties on Sunday.

"This will be announced in a simultaneous statement by both prime ministers (of Turkey and Israel) at 1 pm (1000 GMT)" on Monday, Kurtulmus said.

Turkey reached an agreement with Israel in Rome Sunday to normalize bilateral relations, a senior Turkish official told the Daily Sabah.

Relations crumbled in 2010 after an Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound Turkish aid flotilla killed 10 Turkish activists in high seas and sent their ties spiraling into a cycle of tensions.

Israeli commandos attacked the Freedom Flotilla in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea on May 31, 2010, killing nine Turkish citizens and injuring about 50 other people. A tenth Turkish national later succumbed to the injuries sustained in the raid.

Ankara initially reacted with fury. It suspended its military ties with Israel and expelled the Israeli envoy from Ankara in September 2010 over Tel Aviv's refusal to apologize for the killings.

However, Turkey gradually engaged in secret talks with the Israeli regime to mend ties. Since last December, the two sides have held several rounds of talks aimed at restoring the tense bilateral ties.

The United States was reportedly pushing the two sides to resolve the dispute. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to the Italian capital, where negotiations are said to have been held with US Secretary of State John Kerry's mediation.

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