By Sadegh Fereydounabadi

Iran FM visits Turkey for regional talks

January 17, 2023 - 21:39

TEHRAN – Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian left Tehran for Ankara on Tuesday morning for talks on the latest developments in the West Asia region. 

The visit, which comes on the heels of a trip to Lebanon and Syria, highlights Iran’s pivotal role in the recent developments in the West Asia region, particularly the process of normalization between Syrian and other regional countries.

Iran’s official news agency IRNA said the trip is in continuation of Amir Abdollahian’s recent visits to Lebanon and Syria. 

The Iranian foreign minister has recently travelled to Beirut and Damascus, where he met with high-level officials. 

In Syria, Amir Abdollahian expressed pleasure with the expanding trend of Syria’s foreign ties, saying this shows the importance and significant position of Syria in the region, according to a statement by the Iranian foreign ministry.

He stressed that the Islamic Republic of Iran has always put emphasis on political solution instead of war, and, as a result, Tehran welcomes the positive developments in the political ties of Syria with other countries.

This comes against a backdrop of regional efforts to build bridges between Syria and the Arab world on the one hand and between Syria and Turkey on the other hand. To this end, President Assad paid a visit to the United Arab Emirates in March last year. Also, UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed visited Damascus in early January in further sign of growing ties between Syria and the UAE.

In parallel, Syria and Turkey are inching toward reproachment after years of tensions. Recently, the defense ministers of Syria, Turkey, and Russia held a joint meeting in Moscow in what was seen as preparation for a meeting between the presidents of Turkey and Syria. Contacts between Syria, the UAE, Turkey, and Russia are underway for greater thaw, with Turkish officials seem to be keener to open a new chapter with Syria.

Before leaving Tehran for Ankara, Amir Abdollahian confirmed that he will discuss the situation in the Levant during his trip to Turkey. 

“Following the talks that were discussed with Syrian and Lebanese authorities, developments in the Levant region and West Asia are on the agenda of the negotiations in the trip to Turkey,” he said, according to IRNA. 

He added, “Today, according to the plan, we had arranged for me to be both in Moscow and Ankara. The reason for that was some regional developments regarding the trip to Moscow and Ankara. Finally, we decided to travel to Moscow with some delay and today I will travel to Ankara.”

He noted, “In the trip to Ankara, the latest situation of bilateral relations should be discussed first. Mr. Erdogan, the President of Turkey, officially invited Ayatollah Raisi to visit Turkey, and the initial arrangements for this trip will be made at the highest level in Ankara.”

The Iranian foreign minister also said that his recent visits are due to the rapid developments in the region. “At the same time, due to the rapid developments in the region of the Levant and West Asia, two days ago we had a conversation with Bashar al-Assad in Syria and in Lebanon with the high-ranking officials of Lebanon, which will be on the agenda of the negotiations.”

He pointed out, “Also, consultations will be held regarding developments in the South Caucasus and important regional issues that ultimately correlate with the security of the region. In the framework of Ayatollah Raisi's government's view of neighborhood policy and looking at Asia, more movements in this area are an important necessity today.”

In Ankara, Amir Abdollahian held two rounds of talks with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu. He also met with Turkish President Racep Tayyip Erdogan. 

In remarks after his meeting with Amir Abdollahian, the Turkish foreign minister said he discussed with his Iranian counterpart bilateral issues as well as developments in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Ukraine, according to Al Jazeera. 

“We discussed the Syrian issue and we call for the implementation of the articles of Astana regarding the territorial integrity of Syria,” he said. 
Speaking at a joint press conference with Cavusoglu, Amir Abdollahian said he had “important and various” talks with Turkish officials, including a 90-minute meeting with President Erdogan. 

According to Amir Abdollahian, a major part of the talks focused on bilateral issue, including ways to implement a joint comprehensive plan of cooperation between Tehran and Ankara. 

He also touched on the growing trend of normalization between Syria and Turkey. “We are pleased with the development of relations between Ankara and Damascus, and we believe that this will be in the interest of the region,” the top Iranian diplomat said. 

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