ANKARA (Reuters) - A Turkish team of experts will go to Jerusalem on March 20 to survey archaeological work near the al-Aqsa mosque which has triggered protests across the Muslim world, a Turkish foreign ministry official said on Thursday.
Israel last month agreed to accept a Turkish team in the Temple Mount area, saying the dig poses no threat to sites revered by Muslims.
“Our ambassador in Tel Aviv will accompany two-day long examinations in Harem-i Sherif area. The team will present their report to Prime minister Tayyip Erdogan when their examinations are completed,” the official told Reuters.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said last month during a visit to Ankara that he had shown Erdogan photographs of the area, but the Turkish leader said he did not know the area and so was not completely convinced by Olmert’s assurances.
Muslim but secular Turkey is one of the few countries in the region to enjoy good ties with both Israel and the Palestinians as well as with Israel’s foes Iran and Syria. Ankara is keen to play a more active diplomatic role in the region.