ANKARA (Reuters) – A potential gas pipeline project between Turkey and Israel is not possible in the short-term and building an alternative system to cut dependence on Russia will not happen quickly, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday.
Turkey and Israel have in recent weeks been working to mend their long-strained ties, and energy has emerged as a potential area of cooperation.
Turkish media on Thursday reported President Tayyip Erdogan as saying he was “very, very hopeful” for energy cooperation with Israel, and he hoped to discuss the issue with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.
“If we discuss this subject with Bennett after Ramadan and we take steps immediately, the process will accelerate for Israel-Turkey cooperation, east Mediterranean crude oil and natural gas,” he told reporters on his plane returning from a trip to Uzbekistan.
The Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins on April 2.
The regional rivals expelled ambassadors in 2018 and have often traded barbs over the Palestinian conflict, Turkish support of the Hamas militant group, which runs Gaza, and other issues.
Speaking to broadcaster A Haber, Cavusoglu said he would travel to Israel and Palestine with Energy Minister Fatih Donmez in mid-May and would discuss the appointment of ambassadors with his Israeli counterpart during the visit.
(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu, Ece Toksabay an Daren Butler; editing by Jason Neely)