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Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen on Thursday opened the country’s permanent embassy in Turkmenistan and said the move will strengthen Israel’s position in Central Asia.
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Cohen, in the first visit by an Israeli top diplomat since 1994, met with Turkmen President Serdar Berdymukhamedov.
People gather for a monument unveiling ceremony in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan Monday, May 25, 2015. Israel has opened an embassy in Ashgabat, just 16 miles from the largely isolationist Central Asian state’s border with Iran. (AP Photo/Alexander Vershinin)
“Ties with Turkmenistan have great importance for security and diplomacy, and the visit will strengthen Israel’s place in the region,” Cohen said on Twitter.
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Opening the permanent diplomatic mission in the capital Ashgabat, about 25 kilometers from the Iranian border, gives Israel its third embassy in former Soviet Central Asia, after Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
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Turkmenistan, which holds vast natural gas reserves, maintains a firmly neutral foreign policy. It has remained largely isolated under autocratic rulers since independence after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.