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03ANKARA4487 2003-07-17 13:07:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Ankara
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1. (C) Ankara Israeli Embassy contacts are pleased with
President Katzav's July 8-9 visit to Ankara and Istanbul.
Israeli DCM Emmanuel Nahshon said "The visit was a great
success," and further commented, "The mere fact the visit
occurred was a success in itself. The Turks did everything
they could for the visit." He thought bilateral relations
between the two countries were "extremely satisfactory."
Nahshon stated the Turkish President initiated the invitation
for the visit and recalled the last time such a high level
visit occurred was in mid-April 99 under President Demirel.

2. (C) The highlight of the visit was a state dinner in
Katzav's honor hosted by President Sezer and attended by PM
Erdogan and FonMin Gul. The dinner entertainment featured
music by the Turkish State Orchestra, which was accompanied
by an Istanbul choral group singing traditional Jewish songs
in Ladino.

3. (C) President Katzav was accompanied by 100 Israeli
business men who attended meetings in Ankara and Istanbul.
Trade between Israel and Turkey in 2002 was $1.2 billion and
Nahshon expects it to reach $2 billion in three or four


Iran Not A Problem


4. (C) Erdogan advised our interlocutors that he did not
think Iran posed a threat to the region. He further told our
interlocutor that Iran was not the only nuclear power in the
region, implying that Israel was the other.


Avoiding Arafat


5. (C) Concrete dates were not discussed for either PM
Erdogan or FonMin Gul's visits to Israel, but it was decided
in principle that an exchange would take place "in the fall."
Our sources confirmed the primary problem for any Erdogan
visit would be to avoid a meeting with Palestinian Chairman
Arafat. During Katzav's visit, Israeli sources reiterated to
Erdogan that he could not see Prime Minister Sharon if he met
with Arafat. Our interlocutors are optimistic there are ways
to avoid an "accidental" meeting with Arafat. Sources
suggested possible solutions to circumvent an Erdogan-Arafat
visit would be to: (1) Invite Prime Minister Abbas (Abu
Mazen) to Turkey for a direct meeting with Erdogan just
before Erdogan visits Israel, eliminating the need for
Erdogan to see Abu Mazen again so soon in the Palestinian
Territories; (2) Holding trilateral regional talks in Aqaba
hosted by Jordan or (3) Scheduling bilateral Turkish-Israel
meetings in Eilat.