Israeli Defense Minister to Visit Turkey

ANKARA (Reuters)–Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai will visit Turkey next month to discuss further cooperation on already close defense links between the two countries–a Turkish Foreign Ministry official said on Tuesday.

"The visit is scheduled for December 8-10," the official told Reuters. Mordechai is expected to meet Turkish government leaders as well as defense officials–he said.

Recent close ties between the Jewish state and Turkey–a Moslem but officially secular nation–have drawn protests from Iran and many in the Arab world.

Turkey signed a military accord with Israel in 1996 that allows Israeli jets to carry out training flights in Turkey’s ample airspace.

A joint naval exercise by Turkey–Israel and the United States first scheduled for November in the eastern Mediterranean has been postponed to a later date.

The official said the exercise might take place in January. Iran and Syria had condemned the maneuvers as a threat to regional security.

This new alliance between Turkey and Israel has ired Turkey’s moslem neighbors–inlcuding Iraq–Syria–Iran and Lebanon–all of which have–on numerous occesions–protested scheduled war games with Turkey and Israel–as well as developing of military relations between the two countries.

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