In Brief: Israeli foreign minister to meet Erdogan during rare Turkey visit

Israel’s foreign minister is paying a rare visit to Turkey today and is expected to meet President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Eli Cohen said he wanted to visit the country to show Israel’s solidarity and support following last week’s devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria.

Israel swiftly despatched a 160-strong search and rescue team to Turkey last week. The Israel Defence Forces Home Front Command teams — which also included some Magen David Adom paramedics and Fire and Rescue Service officials — managed to rescue 19 civilians from the rubble in southeastern Turkey.

Meeting with the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, Cohen said: “It is more important than ever, for us – the international community in general and Israel in particular – to come together as friends, to offer support and assistance in any possible way. Human sympathy should know no borders, no political boundaries.”

Israel and Turkey have a strained relationship, although there’s been a marked improvement over the past year.

The Israeli search and rescue team returned to Tel Aviv on Monday and was greeted by Benjamin Netanyahu.

“We saw you in action in the cold, in difficult conditions around the clock in the most sacred work a person can do — saving the lives of others,” the prime minister told the rescuers.