Jerusalem, 30 April 1997


(Communicated by Defense Minister’s Media Coordinator)

"Security cooperation between Israel and Turkey is not directed against any third party. We place great importance on the developing and strengthening relations between our two countries; this cooperation is essential to both countries and to strengthening stability in the Middle East," Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai told Turkish Defense Minister Turhan Tayan today (Wednesday), 30.4.97, during a working meeting at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv.

The Turkish defense minister arrived today for his first visit to Israel as the guest of Mr. Mordechai, and was received by an honor guard.

Defense Minister Mordechai briefed Mr. Tayan on the government’s efforts to advance the peace process and its assessment of the threats facing the region foremost among them the missile threat, non-conventional weapons and terrorism. He told the Turkish minister both Israel and Turkey suffer from the problem of terrorism, and that Israel according to its declared policy would be prepared to assist Turkey with know-how and in other ways, in fighting terrorism.

Mordechai promised his guest that Israel would do everything possible to strengthen general and security ties with Turkey. "Both our countries are free, peace-loving democracies and cooperation between us is very important for stability in the Middle East," he said.

The defense minister briefed Mr. Tayan on his initiative to hold joint defensive training between Israeli, Turkish and U.S. forces. This initiative was also raised by Defense Minister Mordechai in talks with senior defense officials in the United States and with the Turkish chief of staff.

Ministers Mordechai and Tayan agreed that Turkey’s deputy chief of staff, who is scheduled to arrive in Israel for talks next week, would discuss this subject with his Israeli counterparts.

Defense Minister Tayan noted that there have been good relations between Israel and Turkey for many years. He expressed unqualified support for strengthening and deepening security ties between Israel and Turkey, saying, "Our cooperation is not directed against a third party. Turkey ascribes great importance to these relations, and I believe that cooperation between us will contribute to regional stability and advance the peace process."

Mr. Tayan said that the two countries share certain areas of concern, such as terrorism. "There cannot be, and we will never accept, any excuse or explanation for acts of terror," he said. Both ministers expressed concern over the arms race in the Middle East and the current efforts to develop surface-to-surface missiles and non-conventional weapons.

Also present in the working meeting between the two ministers were the IDF chief of staff, the defense minister’s senior adviser David Ivry, the director general of the Defense Ministry, the head of Military Intelligence, the head of the IDF Planning Branch and others.

The head of Military Intelligence briefed Mr. Tayan on the current situation in the Middle East and on the main threats in the region. The head of Planning Branch discussed the structure of the IDF and its response to threats.