Key Decisions to Bolster Iran-Turkey Cooperation

Tehran and Ankara agreed to expand banking relations, conduct trade using national currencies and extend the operation of Iran-Turkey border crossings to 24 hours a day
President Hassan Rouhani (R) and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, attend a press conference in Tehran on Oct. 4.President Hassan Rouhani (R) and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, attend a press conference in Tehran on Oct. 4.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tehran and Ankara have made major decisions to boost bilateral cooperation, especially by achieving their declared trade target of $30 billion.

Rouhani made the statement in a joint presser with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was in Tehran for a daylong visit, reported.

"Expanding banking relations, [doing] trade using national currencies and [extending] the operation of Iran-Turkey border [crossings] to 24 hours a day are among agreements reached during today's intense negotiations," Rouhani said on Wednesday. The Iranian president said the two sides have also agreed to facilitate mutual investments in various sectors, including tourism, transit, petrochemicals and infrastructure.

Rouhani said Turkey will increase its import of natural gas from Iran.

Erdogan was accompanied by a high-ranking delegation comprising ministers of economy, energy, customs and culture, as well as Turkish investors and business leaders.

Before the press conference, Erdogan and Rouhani co-chaired the fourth meeting of Turkey-Iran High-Level Cooperation Council, which led to four cooperation documents on banking and customs, among other fields.

The two neighbors, which are key economic partners, plan to triple last year's $10 billion trade transactions by 2018.

Erdogan said he is confident the harmonious course of relations between the two neighbors will continue and bonds of friendship between the two nations will be strengthened.

  United for Regional Stability

The two presidents also talked about the region, particularly the Sept. 25 poll in Iraq's Kurdistan on secession, which has dominated the political landscape of West Asia in recent weeks.

The referendum drew strong criticism from Iraq's federal government and its neighbors, as well as opposition from the international community.

The Iraqi government has demanded that the Kurdish leadership cancel the result of the referendum to avoid sanctions, international isolation and possibly a military intervention.

Rouhani said, "The two countries believe [the rise in] separatism and escalation of ethnic and religious tensions in the region are plots of outside powers, so they by no means would accept changes in geographical boundaries."

The Iranian president described Tehran and Ankara as "anchors of stability" in the chaotic region, saying the two will continue to work toward restoring peace to conflict zones in the region, particularly Syria.

Iran and Turkey, along with Russia, are mediating a peace process aimed at ending the deadly crisis plaguing Syria for years.

The Turkish president said KRG's "illegitimate" secession push will get nowhere, as it lacks international support and its only backer is Israel.

Erdogan said KRG should expect harsher measures from its neighbors, warning Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani of total isolation.

Just prior to Erdogan's visit, Turkish Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar arrived in Tehran on Monday for discussions with senior Iranian officials.

During his talks, Tehran and Ankara agreed to boost military cooperation to boost regional security, fight terrorism and combat human and drug trafficking.

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