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Turkish PM Erdogan Visits Iran to Rebuild Relations

Turkey's prime minister has visited Tehran to improve relations with Iran and forge some economic agreements.



Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived late Tuesday and was welcomed Wednesday by Iranian First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri.



"We have taken concrete decisions to bolster bilateral relations between the two countries. We have reached a nice agreement on natural gas exports. We hope that this will be implemented sooner. We believe that the visit by the Turkish prime minister will be cornerstone in bilateral relations and it will help improve ties between the two countries."



Mr. Erdogan, who met later Wednesday with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, also expressed hope for the visit.



"Today we have mainly liaised on bilateral relations. A preferential commercial agreement was of utmost importance. I am very pleased to sign it."



VOA Persian reports this was not Mr. Erdogan's first visit to Tehran but that it came at a critical time as the two nations have fundamentally different positions on the civil war in Syria.

Turkey supports the Syrian opposition while Tehran backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. But despite this difference, Turkey has started to support the idea of including Iran in talks on Syria's future.



Turkey and Iran began to grow closer economically after the international community hit Iran with sanctions over its controversial nuclear program and suspicions Tehran has been trying to develop a nuclear weapon.

According to Iranian media, trade between two countries now amounts to $20 billion a year. Iranian officials say they hope to increase that figure to $30 billion by 2015.

Mr. Erdogan's trip also came as he is facing a financial corruption scandal back in Ankara.

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