|Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul said on Tuesday that growing cooperation between Turkey and Israel contributes to peace and stability in the Middle East.
Gonul made the remarks at a joint press conference with visiting Israeli Minister of Defense Ehud Barak after their official talks in the Turkish capital of Ankara.
Hailing the two countries' cooperation, Gonul said that his country has signed 15 agreements with Israeli military authorities and are conducting joint military acts. He also said that Turkish and Israeli defense officials have revived talks on purchasing spy satellites developed and constructed by Israel.
Gonul said that Turkey used Israeli-manufactured unmanned aircraft in its south-east and cross-border operations against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which he said have been very helpful.
"We thank Israel for its support to Turkey in the defense industry. We thank Mr. Barak for sending equipment and devices that Turkey use in the south-east and in cross border operations," Gonul stressed.
Gonul also hailed the long-running ties between the two countries, noting "Turkey was among the first countries to recognize Israel when it was founded. In fact, Turkey was the first Muslim country to recognize Israel."
"We are making great efforts so that Israel and Palestine live in peace side by side," Gonul added.
For his part, Barak hailed Turkey's significance and influence in the region, saying "everyone respects and have confidence in Turkey in the region."
"Turkey is a source of stability in a region surrounded by Afghanistan, Iraq, Hezbollah and Lebanon," Barak underlined.
He added that Israel and Turkey are willing to have more joint projects in the future.