News / Europe

Turkey's Erdogan Visits Iran to Improve Ties After Syria Split

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (R) and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan talk during their meeting in Tehran, Iran, Jan. 29, 2014. A portrait of the late Iranian revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini hangs on the wall.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (R) and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan talk during their meeting in Tehran, Iran, Jan. 29, 2014. A portrait of the late Iranian revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini hangs on the wall.
Reuters
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan visited Iran on Wednesday to bolster trade and energy ties, state TV said, in what also looked like a bid to defuse tensions over Syria by capitalizing on Tehran's diplomatic opening to regional rivals and the West.

Iran has been a strong strategic ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since the start of the uprising against him, while Turkey has been one of his fiercest critics, supporting his opponents and giving refuge to rebel fighters.

But Iran's election last June of President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate who says he wants to thaw Iran's ties with the West, and shared concern over the rise of al-Qaida in Syria, have spurred hopes of a Turkish-Iranian rapprochement.

While deep divisions remain between Ankara and Tehran over the conflict in Syria, diplomats and government officials say both sides want to mend a relationship that could be pivotal to the fast-changing political map of the Middle East.

The United States believes detente between Turkey and Iran is important to wider stability in the Middle East, a strategic breakthrough Washington hopes to achieve from talks that world powers are pursuing with Tehran to curb its nuclear program.

Erdogan met Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as well as Rouhani, whose foreign policy of “prudence and moderation” has eased Tehran's international isolation and revived contact with longtime arch-enemy Washington.

“Our relations with Turkey have entered a new phase and we hope this trend continues. Besides serving the interests of the two countries, we hope our dialog (with Turkey) serve regional interests as well,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham told reporters in Tehran. “As two neighbors and Muslim countries, Iran and Turkey enjoy many commonalities and many cooperation opportunities.”

Analysts said the main focus of Erdogan's visit was expanding economic cooperation, finessing any political disputes for now. “Considering that the economy and energy ministers are accompanying Erdogan, we can say this trip is business-targeted,” said Tehran-based analyst Hossein Foroughi.

Erdogan signed three trade deals on Wednesday before leaving Tehran to fly home, Iranian state television said.

“Today we had a good chance to review bilateral ties,” Erdogan said in remarks translated into Farsi by Iranian television as it showed him meeting Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri.

“I would like to mention specifically, and to express my satisfaction with, the agreement we signed in the preferential trade field,” he said. “It is obvious that we import from Iran crude oil and gas, which are strategic energy sources, and we (will be) able to increase the volume of these imports.”

No details were immediately released about the three trade pacts or Erdogan's meetings with Khamenei and Rouhani, who plans to visit Turkey within the next few months, according to Iranian and Turkish media.

Seeking natural gas discount

Erdogan's delegation repeated Turkey's demand for a discount on the price of natural gas from Iran, a senior Turkish official said. A senior Iranian official then told Reuters: “This issue was discussed but further talks will take place on the issue of discount. No decision has been made yet.”

Turkey depends on imports for almost all of its natural gas needs and the $60 billion energy bill Ankara must foot annually has been the biggest driver of its ballooning current account deficit, regarded as the main weakness of its economy.

Ankara deems Iranian gas too expensive compared with other suppliers like Russia and Azerbaijan, an assertion rejected by Tehran. Turkey's Petroleum Pipeline Corporation applied to an international court of arbitration in 2012 for a ruling on  Iran's gas pricing. The case is still pending.

Turkey is keen to increase oil and gas imports from Tehran in anticipation of sanctions against Iran's huge energy sector being dismantled in the wake of the Nov. 24 deal between Tehran and six big powers under which the Islamic Republic committed to scaling back some of its controversial nuclear activities.

Some sanctions that were imposed over suspicions that Iran is covertly trying to develop a nuclear weapons capability, something it denies, were relaxed starting on Jan. 20.

But most sanctions, including a severe squeeze on Iran's access to the international financial system, remain in force pending a long-term agreement on the scope of Iran's nuclear program, which is to be negotiated over the next six months.

Potential market bonanza in Iran

But the potential of a market of 76 million people in Iran with some of the world's biggest oil and gas reserves is a magnet for foreign investors, including Turkish companies.

“We hope the process will be finalized with an agreement that will ensure the removal of all sanctions on Iran. Turkey has so far done its best in that regard and will continue to do so,” Erdogan told reporters in Ankara before he flew to Tehran.

Iranian officials say trade between the countries stood at $22 billion [16.2 billion euros] in 2012, before dipping to $20 billion in 2013, and that it should reach $30 billion in 2015.

Iran was Turkey's third largest export market in 2012. In fact, Iranian media said, Turkey exports more than 20,000 products to Iran, among them gold and silver.

The United States has been unhappy over continued trade with Iran by its Turkish ally sidestepping the sanctions regime, and has blacklisted some Turkish firms involved.

U.S. Treasury Under Secretary David Cohen, who visited Turkey just before Erdogan's Iran trip, warned the Turkish government against any rapid improvement of trade and economic links with the Islamic Republic before a final nuclear agreement is struck, according to Turkish media.

“Businesses interested in engaging in Iran really should hold off. The day may come when Iran is open for business, but the day is not today,” Zaman newspaper quoted Cohen as saying.

You May Like

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
January 30, 2014 8:30 AM
Foremost two islamist regimes living side by side in the region cannot just accept to be divided along US lines. There's so much going for the two countries, and we are not in a hurry to forget the trouble Erdogan created for Israel over spy racket in Iran, all because of keeping with islamist agenda. Now it is economic visit. Everyone understands that not the jump starting of relations by Britain will be about to change deep rooted distrust for the Anglo-America in the Ottoman/Persian enclave. At the end it will be such relations that will benefit from the fallout of the western waste of time trying to agree on a sanctions regime that they have not been able to sustain, thus half-heartedly lifting sanctions to try to hide deep crevices of discord within the NATO/EU axis.

Surely the US seems about to be left behind by its so-called European allies which are forcing it to a cursory mending of fences with Iran over sanctions for its nuclear program, as well as they have moved to restart relations with Cuba in spite of USA.. Believe it, the dexterity of these islamist leaders seems to be something the CIA/NSA have not been able to counter. And Erdogan seems bent on ensuring it stands up while seeking for regional control and power.

by: Mbanana from: usa
January 29, 2014 2:55 PM
here in one room you have the concentrated filth of the world... missing are Hamas, Hizbulla, AlQaeda, Islamic Shura, Muslim Brotherhood and aunt Zeituni Onyango... and Ancle Omar... LOL

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More