Despite differences on Syria, Tehran and Ankara to restart bilateral visits

ALI ÜNAL @ali_unal
ANKARA
Published 16.01.2016 00:00

While tensions in relations and opposing positions over the Syrian civil war continue, Turkey and Iran are looking to overcome their differences and are planning to restart bilateral visits to focus on positive improvements in relations.

Tensions over regional issues between Ankara and Tehran reached their zenith in 2015. The visit by Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif was canceled in August after Iranian reports targeted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his family with false allegations. Moreover, Russian intervention in Syria as a result of Tehran's invitation to keep Syrian President Bashar Assad in power and the recent Saudi-Iranian dispute over the attack on the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Tehran after Saudi Arabia executed the prominent Shiite cleric, Nimr al-Nimr, also fueled tension in the region.

However, Ankara has maintained cautious optimism and "strategic patience" in Iranian relations. Ankara welcomed Tehran's nuclear deal with the West and considered the full implementation of the nuclear deal between Iran and the six world powers of vital importance for peace, security and stability in the region. "Turkey is a country that benefits from stability in our region," a senior official from the Foreign Ministry told Daily Sabah on Friday, and added they would like to see the implementation of the nuclear deal and its effects on regional politics.

A source also indicated that bilateral visits between the two capitals will also restart after a months-long hiatus. Accordingly, an Iranian deputy foreign minister is expected to visit Ankara in the coming days to discuss bilateral and regional issues. A postponed visit by Foreign Minister of Javad Zarif is also expected to take place in the coming weeks after the deputy foreign minister's visit.

Both countries are also looking for opportunities to revitalize economic aspects of their bilateral relations. Hence the joint economic committee that has not meet for the last two years is also expected to hold a meeting in the first half of the year to boost transit through border areas and expand economic cooperation. Meanwhile, a source indicated that Turkey's leading business association, the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TUSİAD), is also expected to pay a visit to Iran in the coming days.

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