Turkish PM in Tehran to Discuss Trade, Syria

Turkish PM in Tehran to Discuss Trade, Syria Turkish PM in Tehran to Discuss Trade, Syria

A high-ranking political and economic Turkish delegation led by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was due to leave Ankara for Tehran on Friday for a two-day visit.  

Davutoglu was to be accompanied by ministers of economy, customs and trade, transport, communications and development, and other governmental officials and media people, IRNA reported. It was the first visit by a Turkish delegation following the conclusion of the historic nuclear deal between Iran and major powers on July 14.

The deal went into effect on Jan. 16 to remove sanctions against Tehran in return for temporary constraints on its nuclear program.

The prospects of lucrative business transactions with Iranian counterparts, which had been shut out of global markets due to international sanctions, have sparked a flurry of interest in overseas companies keen to gain a foothold in the untapped Iranian market.

The Turkish premier is scheduled to meet President Hassan Rouhani, his first deputy Es'haq Jahangiri and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. The meetings are expected to cover discussions on how to reach $30 billion of bilateral trade, a target previously agreed between the two sides' presidents and on regional issues, including the Syria crisis.

They come days before another round of international peace talks on Syria is held on March 9 in Geneva. Ankara and Tehran back opposing sides in the five-year-old Syria war that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives in the Arab country.

Turkey and its Arab and western allies have been supporting insurgent groups fighting against the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who enjoys backing from Iran and Russia.

The forthcoming Syria talks follow an agreement on a ceasefire between the involved parties that took effect a week ago, as part of a diplomatic process in a roadmap outlined in previous rounds of negotiations, aimed at appointing an inclusive transitional government within two years.

  Waiting for Good News

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told reporters, "We are facing a critical and very serious situation in the region. Meanwhile, the prime minister is travelling to Iran. I hope he will get back with good news."

Mehmet Seyfettin Erol, professor of international relations at Ankara-based Gazi University, told Xinhua, "Both Turkey and Iran need each other as they are being impacted by what has been happening in their neighborhood. As the major powers gear up for peace talks for Syria, Turkey and Iran, the two regional heavyweights, must be able to talk to each other frankly."

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu acknowledged last week in parliament that both countries have different views on regional matters.

Davutoglu's visit was organized "to develop and reinforce political, cultural and economic ties and cooperation" between the two countries, the Iranian Embassy in Ankara said in a statement on Thursday.