Turkey's Energy Minister Berat Albayrak is set to visit Israel by the end of this year to close a deal that will result in a gas pipeline between the two countries, Israel's energy minister said on Wednesday.
By sending Albayrak, the son-in-law of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and a close member of his inner circle, Ankara is signalling the step-up in relations with Israel that has followed the two countries' rapprochement deal last year.
The deal ended a rift that ensued after Israel raided a Gaza-bound flotilla sent by a Turkish charity. The raid resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish activists.
"Hopefully, Mr. Albayrak will pay a visit to Israel this year in 2017, which will help us accelerate and try to conclude this agreement," Israeli Energy Minster Yuval Steinitz said at the World Petroleum Congress in Istanbul after meeting Albayrak.
He added that no date had been set for Albayrak's visit.
"We want to build a pipeline stretching from Israel to Turkey in order to be able to export natural gas from Israel to Turkey," Steinitz said, adding that Israeli gas could reach the rest of Europe via the proposed pipeline.
Turkey, which largely depends on foreign supplies for its energy needs, is keen to diversify resources and has a close eye on Israel’s own developing resources.
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