Closer Tehran-Ankara Ties Benefit Regional Stability
EghtesadOnline: Iran's president said closer Iran-Turkey relations is to the benefit of the two nations and contributes to regional peace and stability, adding that strengthening bonds of friendship with neighbors is a principle of Iran's foreign policy.
"Division among regional states is useful to nobody," Hassan Rouhani told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a meeting on the sidelines of the 13th Economic Cooperation Organization summit in Islamabad on Wednesday, according to President.ir.
"The Islamic Republic always welcomes dialogue based on mutual respect for settling disputes."
The meeting came following a diplomatic spat between the two countries, triggered by last month's statements by Turkish officials accusing Iran of destabilizing the region, Financial Tribune reported.
Erdogan said during a visit to Bahrain on February 14 that Iran's promotion of "Persian nationalism" has damaged the Middle East.
Days later, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a speech to the Munich Security Conference that "Iran wants to make Syria and Iraq Shia".
Tehran and Ankara support opposite sides in the conflict in Syria and have different views on some other regional crises, including in Bahrain, Yemen and Iraq.
Rouhani said Tehran and Ankara can work on the political settlement of regional disputes, which are good for their security as it directs focus on the real source of instability, namely terrorist entities.
"Fighting terrorism is the main task in tackling regional problems, because terrorists are enemies of Islam, the region and mankind. We should work to stop bloodshed and interference of foreign powers in the region as soon as possible," he said, stressing the need for respecting territorial integrity and sovereignty of regional countries, particularly Syria and Iraq.
The president said Tehran and Ankara should exploit numerous potentials for increasing economic cooperation.
"The two countries' investors can have good cooperation [in the form of] joint projects" in various fields, particularly energy, transportation and banking, he said.
"The next meeting of Iran-Turkey commission in Tehran [in mid-April] can bring about a transformation in the development of bilateral collaboration."
Erdogan said the two countries should increase mutual investments and economic collaboration "based on national currencies".
"Turkey is intent on finalizing a preferential trade agreement with Iran and achieving the goal of $30 billion in bilateral trade," he said.
Erdogan also underlined the need for cooperation on tackling conflicts in the region and spread of terrorism there.
Also on Wednesday, Rouhani held a meeting with Pakistan's Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, in which they vowed to improve bilateral relations.