Turkey Pleased by Improved Security Cooperation With Iran

Turkey Pleased by Improved Security Cooperation With IranTurkey Pleased by Improved Security Cooperation With Iran

Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said his country welcomes a deepening engagement with Iran to address security challenges in the conflict-ridden region.

"Our security cooperation with Iran will expand and we are pleased with this [development]. Turkey-Iran cooperation can eliminate terrorism," Yildirim told a join presser with visiting Iranian Vice President Es'haq Jahangiri on Thursday.

The common stances of Iran and Turkey regarding Middle East issues and a joint initiative with Russia to end the Syria war have drawn Tehran and Ankara closer in the past few months.

They both opposed a controversial independence referendum held in the Kurdistan Region of neighboring Iraq on Sept. 25, which also drew widespread condemnation by the United Nations and some western powers over its possible adverse effects on a long-running campaign to end the reign of the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group in Iraq and Syria.

Yildirim denounced the secessionist move as a setback to ethnic unity in the region and called for its organizers to be removed from power, IRNA reported.

"Unfortunately, what transpired in the Iraqi Kurdistan region was not reflecting the expectations of Kurdish, Arab, Turkmen … and other ethnic groups in this region," he said.

"It was the outcome of the personal, ambitious aspirations of the officials in the Kurdistan region and given this, it seems impossible to allow people who are responsible for so many [unfortunate] things that stemmed from [the separatist move] to continue their rule."    

Tensions surrounding the vote died down last week after the Iraqi Army launched an operation and captured Kirkuk, in the heart of a major oil production region, without facing any resistance from Kurdish Peshmerga fighters.

Jahangiri highlighted the joint front forged by Iran and Turkey in support of the Baghdad government to thwart the Kurdish separatist attempt.

"The referendum was nipped in the bud after the areas liberated from Daesh [the Arabic acronym for IS] were retaken," the vice president said.

Kirkuk came under Kurdish control after IS overran northern Iraq in a 2014 lightning offensive and the Iraqi Army disintegrated.

"It is pointless to think that the territorial integrity of a great country like Iraq could be harmed because Iran, Turkey and other regional countries would always support Iraq's central government in preserving its integrity and sovereignty," Jahangiri said.

Tehran and Ankara have stepped up military relations as evidenced by recent reciprocal meetings held by Chairman of the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri and his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar.

Adding to signs of expanded cooperation, a couple of days after Akar's trip, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan flew to Tehran, on Oct. 4, to confer on preparing a joint response to the Kurdish referendum and advance collaboration on Syria in meetings with the Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani.

Yildirim said his discussions with Jahangiri also covered the trilateral Syria talks hosted by the Kazakh capital Astana and other regional and international issues, including the situations in Yemen and Palestine.

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