The German government is moving to approve upgrades of ’s Leopard battle tanks by German arms maker Rheinmetall as a further step towards normalising strained ties with Ankara, Der Spiegel magazine said on Friday.

This week allies and resumed bilateral government consultations, suspended after Ankara’s arrest of German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel last February in a case that continues to divide the two countries.

The tentative thaw in relations followed the release of a number of Germans jailed in , and a meeting between German Foreign Minister and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in earlier this month.

After the meeting Gabriel instructed his office to put ’s request for the tank upgrades on the agenda and “to look favourably” at it, Spiegel said.

The German foreign ministry did not respond to requests for comment on the potential arms sales to .

Gabriel told reporters after his meeting with Cavusoglu that major arms sales to would remain off limits until Yucel’s case had been resolved, but signalled at the time that Berlin would review Ankara’s request to add protective gear to its existing tanks.

wants to add gear to reinforce the tanks against s and mines, and is also seeking a sensor system that would protect the vehicles against anti-tank projectiles.

Spiegel said the likely approval of the tank upgrades was viewed by diplomats as “a concession toward solving the crisis with and a step toward securing the release of the Die Welt journalist Yucel”.

accuses Yucel of spreading propaganda for the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). He denies the charge.

Source: http://theregion.org/article/12558-germany-likely-to-approve-tank-upgrades-for-turkey-spiegel