Iran welcomes steps towards reconciliation between Turkey and Syria

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ANKARA, Turkey (TBEN) – Iran welcomes moves toward a reconciliation between Turkey and Syria and is ready to move efforts forward, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said Tuesday.

The Iranian minister made the statements in Ankara, weeks after Turkish and Syrian defense ministers had held talks in Moscow. It was the first ministerial-level meeting between Damascus and Ankara since relations broke down with the start of the Syrian civil war nearly 12 years ago.

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“We are very happy that relations between Damascus and Ankara have recently undergone a change,” Amirabdollahian said at a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu.

“We think that any development between Ankara and Damascus – this positive development – ​​will benefit our region, the two countries and (Iran). Given the close relationship with these two countries, as the Islamic Republic of Iran, we will do our best to achieve this goal as soon as possible.”

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Turkey and Syria are on opposite sides of the Syrian conflict, with Turkey backing rebels trying to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad. Iran, along with Russia, has supported Assad’s government.

Under pressure from Russia, Turkey agreed with the Syrian government. Cavusoglu has said he can meet the Syrian foreign minister next month.

Damascus has denounced Turkey’s grip on parts of northern Syria seized since 2016 in a series of military raids to oust Kurdish rebels. A statement from Assad’s office last week said Moscow-backed talks with Turkey should aim at “ending the occupation and supporting terrorism” – a reference to Turkey’s support for insurgents in Syria.

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“During today’s meetings, we emphasized that Iran’s contributions (to rapprochement with Syria) are very important,” said Cavusoglu. “In the process ahead, we will work closely with Iran on next steps and on steps that will lead to solutions.”