By Julian Pecquet - 04/04/13 04:08 PM EDT
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet President Obama at the White House next month after taking steps to reconcile with Israel, according to published reports.
The visit comes as the two U.S. allies are moving to restore relations after Obama, during his trip to the region last month, helped broker an Israeli apology for the deaths of eight Turks and a Turkish-American citizen who tried to force the Israeli blockade on Gaza in 2010. The reconciliation has been strained since Erdogan announced plans to visit the territory controlled by Hamas, which Israel considers an enemy and the United States labels a terrorist group.
“By going to Istanbul first to see Turkish officials and then going on to Israel, the secretary will also have an opportunity to spur both sides to continue to take steps to deepen their normalization, and to work well together,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Wednesday. “I think we're pleased with the initial steps that were taken in the context of the president's diplomacy and the president's visit. We need to now see further steps on both sides.”
Erdogan's trip was first reported by Israel Hayom. A White House official didn't deny the report.
“No announcements to make today,” the official told The Hill, “but you might wait a few days for news.”