Ankara, August 12, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
Iran’s foreign minister has emphasized the importance of the roles played by Iran, Russia and Turkey in the regional arena, saying the three countries should cooperate and engage in dialogue with one another, while also welcoming recent moves by Turkey and Russia to patch up ties.
“We are very happy with the new cooperation between Turkey and Russia,” Mohammad Javad Zarif said in Ankara on Aug. 12 during a joint press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu following a bilateral meeting.
The cooperation will be significant, especially for the efforts to solve the crisis in Syria, Zarif said.
“This cooperation is important for all three countries. Iran has always had a positive dialogue with Turkey on Syria and has very good ties with Russia. We believe that all sides should cooperate for peace and security in Syria and the fight against extremism.”
Zarif’s visit came days after a key encounter between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who met face-to-face for the first time since Turkey downed a Russian plane over Syria last November, straining ties.
Tehran and Moscow are Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s main allies in the civil war, putting them at loggerheads with Turkey, which insists al-Assad must leave for there to be peace in Syria.
But Çavuşoğlu said: “We will closely cooperate on these issues [on Syria] after this meeting. There are issues we agree on, especially on Syrian territorial integrity.”
“On some issues, we have different views but we have never cut dialogue. We have emphasized from the outset the importance of the constructive role Iran plays for a permanent solution in Syria,” he added.
Zarif said both Iran and Turkey wanted to see the Syrian people decide the fate of their own country.
Both countries “wanted to protect the territorial integrity of Syria and that Syrian people must determine their own future,” he said.
The visit was the first by a high-ranking Iranian official to Turkey since the July 15 failed coup attempt in the country. Iran was among the first countries to condemn the coup attempt.
“I congratulate the Turkish nation for the defiance they showed against the coup plotters,” Zarif told reporters.
“They showed the people of the region that they would not allow democracy and their rights to be taken away from them through coups and the use of force.”
Çavuşoğlu said he talked to Zarif four or five times on the night of the July 15 coup attempt.
“He called me four or five times through the night, and various times in the following days,” said Çavuşoğlu.
“I thank Zarif and the Iranian people for the support they gave us against the coup attempt.