In an apparent attempt to patch up Turkish-Israel ties, which had badly deteriorated since Operation Cast Lead, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni met with her Turkish counterpart Ali Babacan in Brussels on Thursday. At the meeting, which took place on the sidelines of a meeting of NATO foreign ministers, Livni and Babacan discussed bilateral ties, stressing the strategic ties between the two countries. The two ministers, according to a statement issued by Livni's office, discussed the importance of the Israeli-Turkish relationship to regional stability, and said that diplomatic cooperation would continue at the highest level. The meeting came following weeks of tension between Jerusalem and Ankara over Turkish Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan's vicious criticism of Israel's military actions in the Gaza Strip during January's Operation Cast Lead. Erdogan and President Shimon Peres got into a shouting match over the issue at the Davos economic summit last month, after which Erdogan stormed off the stage. Late last month, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi apologized to the Turkish military for critical comments a senior IDF officer made at a conference regarding the inappropriateness of Turkish criticism considering Turkey's history of conflict with Armenians and Kurds. This meeting in Brussels was an apparent attempt by both capitals to put the relations back on an even keel.