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Turkish Foreign Minister Pays Surprise Visit to Iran

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21 Aug 2016

Turkey’s foreign minister says he has paid a surprise visit to Iran just days after the two countries agreed to greater cooperation on Syria despite their differences. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told Turkish state media on Friday that he stopped in Tehran on his way to India on Thursday.

The Turkish and Iranian foreign ministers met in Ankara last week and said they would cooperate more on finding a lasting solution to the crisis in Syria. Turkey and Iran have held opposing positions on Syria, with Iran backing the government of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad and Turkey advocating Al Assad’s departure.

State-run Anadolu Agency quoted Cavusoglu as saying: “We have to increase our efforts. The [Syria] problem grows deeper and more insolvable with time.” On Tuesday, Prime Minister Bulent Yildirim told lawmakers from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK) Party that Turkey and Iran will work on finding a solution to the crisis in Syria.

“Just like it normalised relations with Israel and Russia, Turkey and Iran will offer the solution to the crisis in Syria,” he said.

The surprise visit comes amid reports in Iranian, Arab and Russian media about a possible trip by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the Islamic republic in the coming days for a trilateral meeting with Russian and Iranian officials to coordinate the countries’ Syria policies. The reports first surfaced in London-based Arabic newspapers but were cited by Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency in a news report.

Russia’s Sputnik Internatinal went as far as predicting a Russian-Turkish-Iranian alliance to defeat terrorists in Syria.Turkish-Iranian relations took a positive turn, particularly after the failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15. In a joint press conference with his visiting Iranian counterpart on August 12, Cavusoglu said Mohammad Javad Zarif, “was the foreign minister I talked to most, calling me five times during the night”. During the visit, Turkey and Iran agreed to boost trade relations and pledged greater cooperation on resolving the Syria crisis.

Ayse Sozen Usluer, Erdogan’s chief international adviser, was quoted as saying inVoice of Americathat Iran’s support is “very important for us … Whoever gave support to democracy in Turkey and democratic regime in Turkey is very important for us and we will always remember that.”

An Iranian politician told the Al Monitor news site recently “that the most important thing is that [the coup attempt] might be an opportunity for Erdogan to understand the situation in neighbouring Syria.”

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