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Turkey ‘playing a balancing act’ between Tel Aviv and Tehran

Amid complex diplomatic ties are Israel’s warnings of an Iranian plot to kill or kidnap Israeli tourists on Turkish soil.

Istanbul, Turkey – Israel’s top diplomat arrives in Ankara on Thursday amid strident warnings of an Iranian plot to kill or kidnap Israeli tourists on Turkish soil.

His visit also comes as Turkey seeks to improve ties with both Israel and Iran.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has been among several Israeli officials to tell travellers to abandon plans to visit Turkey and instructed those inside the country to return home as soon as possible or shelter in their hotels.

While the Israelis have praised Turkish cooperation in foiling the alleged Iranian operations – said to be revenge for the killing of senior Iranian security officers by Israel in recent weeks – the Turkish authorities have been more restrained.

The only word from Ankara on the claims has been a foreign ministry statement last week that said Turkey “is a safe country and continues to fight against terrorism”.

“Turkey is trying to not take sides in the conflict between Iran and Israel but it’s also giving a firm message that it will not allow these kinds of operations – like the ones the Iranians have allegedly been planning – on its own soil,” said Suha Cubukcuoglu, an Istanbul-based geopolitical analyst.

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