Turkey-Israel talks on $1.5 billion deal

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israeli and Turkish officials have held talks about possible defense deals worth $1.5 billion which would see Israel upgrade the Turkish air force’s aging fleet of F-4 Phantom planes, the Haaretz daily reported yesterday. An Israeli Defense Ministry delegation led by Director General Amos Yaron was in Ankara last week to meet with senior Turkish counterparts and draw up a joint work program between their armies for the coming year, the paper said. The discussions focused on the refurbishment of 48 of the Turkish air force’s F-4 Phantoms and up to 300 M48 Patton tanks belonging to Turkey’s armored corps. To date defense cooperation between the two countries has mainly focused on their air forces and navy but Haaretz said both sides were considering broadening the cooperation to include land forces. Ties took a battering in May last year when Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned as «state terrorism» a deadly Israeli raid on the Rafah refugee camp in southern Gaza and Ankara temporarily recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv.

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