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

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Works to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Smithsonian senior research botanist Vicki Funk says ultimate goal is 'trying to get one-half of the diversity of plant life on Earth at the genus level in two years' More

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

Report from member of British think tank says Russian extradition requests keep targets from traveling More

US Lawmakers Weigh Turkish Anti-terror Moves

Turkey’s two-pronged campaign against Islamic State militants, Kurdish PKK forces provokes mixed reactions on Capitol Hill 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.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs