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Iranian Foreign Minister in Ankara for Talks on Iraq

Iran's foreign minister made a surprise visit to Ankara Friday for talks with Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul.

Following his arrival, Iran's foreign minister, Kamal Kharrazi, told reporters that the talks would focus on regional issues, including developments in neighboring Iraq. Mr Kharrazi stressed the need for consultation and cooperation on matters affecting Iran and Turkey.

Both Turkey and Iran have expressed concerns over the security situation in Iraq. Home to large Kurdish minorities, both countries are also worried by the demands of Iraq's Kurds for greater autonomy.

Ankara and Tehran fear that the Iraqi Kurds' moves toward independence could increase separatist passions among their respective Kurdish populations. This fear is also shared by Syria, which is home to up to a million Kurds.

Turkey, a staunch ally of the United States and Israel, has been steadily improving ties with Iran and its Arab neighbors under its two year old Islam-rooted government led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Mr. Kharrazi arrived in the Turkish capital only hours after Mr. Erdogan wound up a two-day visit to Syria that was hailed as a major success by the Turkish and Arab media.