Iran & Turkey Bilateral Ties Zarif Visits Ankara

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Iranian Foreign Minister MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF (left) and Turkish Prime Minister MEVLUT CAVUSOGLU met for talks in the Turkish capital Ankara

IRANIAN Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has travelled to Ankara to hold talks with Turkish officials on bilateral ties, the restoration of peace in Syria, and the latest developments in North Africa.

That was announced by Zarif upon arrival in the Turkish capital, Ankara, which is his second visit to the country during the past few weeks.

Speaking to reporters, the top Iranian diplomat said during his one-day stay in Turkey, he will ‘discuss regional issues, in particular Syria and matters related to Northern Africa’, particularly the situation in Libya, where the self-styled commander Khalifa Haftar has attempted a ‘coup’ against the internationally-recognised government, according to the UN.

‘We will also discuss bilateral ties, on which we have already had good talks with Turkey,’ he added.

He said economic cooperation between Iran and Turkey, and following up on the implementation of agreements earlier reached between the two sides will also be on the agenda of his talks with top Turkish officials.

Zarif’s trip to Turkey comes after he visited the Syrian capital, Damascus, on Tuesday. During his stay in the Arab country, the Iranian top diplomat discussed Tehran-Damascus cooperation, and the process of restoring peace to the war-torn state.

President Assad of Syria said the blacklisting of Iran’s elite IRGC force was yet another ‘wrong’ US move, which would further destabilise the region.

‘In Syria, we made good arrangements on the upcoming meeting of the Astana Process, as well as international cooperation within the framework of the UN with the aim of finding a political solution to Syria’s  crisis,’ Zarif said in Ankara.

The arrangements of the Astana talks were particularly discussed in a meeting between Zarif and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The Astana Process refers to an initiative by Iran, Russia, and Turkey which mediates peace negotiations between representatives from the Damascus government and opposition groups in a series of rounds held in the Kazakh capital Astana – recently renamed as Nur-Sultan – and other places since January 2017.

The talks, which are collectively referred to as the Astana peace process, have so far helped significantly reduce the violence gripping the Arab country by establishing four de-escalation zones there.

They have also paved the way for the formation of a Constitutional Committee.

This is while the parallel UN-backed peace process in Geneva has failed to deliver much.

  • Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says the fate of the Middle East must only be determined by regional nations rather than outsiders, no matter how grave the crises they are grappling with might be.

‘The fate of the region must only be determined by the peoples of the region no matter how big the challenges become,’ Assad said during a meeting with visiting Iraqi National Security Adviser Faleh al-Fayad in Damascus last Sunday.

The Syrian leader then emphasised that the promotion of bilateral relations between Syria and Iraq will serve the interests of the two brotherly nations, and will help the complete annihilation of terrorism.

The Syrian president said cooperation among his country, Iran, and Iraq in anti-terror struggle has further strengthened their ties.

The Syrian president further emphasised that Damascus and Baghdad must preserve their sovereignty and independence in the face of regional and international developments as well as divisive schemes being hatched by outsiders.

Fayad, for his part, stated that Iraq regards Syria’s might and victory over terrorism as its own, and that any Iraqi military achievement will be in the best interests of Syria’s stability.

Iraq and Syria have been lately discussing the opening of border crossings between the two countries as well as the efforts made to hunt down remnants of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in border areas.

The Iraqi intelligence service has arrested 13 French citizens affiliated with the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in an operation inside neighbouring Syria.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups wreaking havoc in the country.

Former Iraqi prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, declared the end of military operations against Daesh in the country on December 9th, 2017.

On July 10th that year, he had formally declared victory over Daesh in the strategic northern city of Mosul, which served as the terrorists’ main urban stronghold in Iraq.

In the run-up to Mosul’s liberation, Iraqi army soldiers and volunteer fighters from the pro-government Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU) – better known by the Arabic name Hashd al-Sha’abi – had made sweeping gains against Daesh.

  • Egypt’s former dictator Hosni Mubarak has revealed that an Israeli proposal to give the occupied Golan Heights to Syria was turned down by Syria’s then-President Hafez al-Assad in 1998 to avoid recognising Israel.

Speaking to the Egyptian al-Hayat network, Mubarak said the rejected offer included establishing formal relations and opening embassies.

‘I contacted the Israelis to try to recover the Golan Heights, but they demanded the opening of an Israeli embassy in Damascus and a Syrian one on the occupied land as a kind of Syrian recognition of Israel,’ he said.

  • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif underlined the need for the deployment of the Syrian army forces at bordering areas with Turkey to establish security and prevent terrorist moves.

‘We are fully aware of the concerns of our friends in Turkey about threats and we have always stated to our friends in the region that the best way to protect security of all the regional states is the deployment of the Syrian army at the border with Turkey and ensuring the prevention of any terrorist moves against the Turkish government and people from Syria,’ Zarif said at a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara on Wednesday.

‘Certainly, the security and tranquillity of the Turkish people is of much importance to us and we have good cooperation with each other in security issues,’ he added.

Zarif also underlined the importance of the next Astana meeting in Kazakhstan, expressing the hope that Iran, Turkey, Russia and Syria in cooperation with the UN could make progress in the Syrian peace process.

Cavusoglu, for his part, reiterated his country’s opposition to the US sanctions against Iran, saying: ‘We are standing on our position in this regard and support the Iranian brothers.

‘We need to increase trade interactions and economic cooperation. We are seriously interested in security and border cooperation and fighting terrorism,’ he added.

Zarif arrived in Turkey on Wednesday after a visit to Syria.