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Turkey, Iran gear up to boost bilateral ties

English.news.cn   2014-01-06 02:24:43            

ANKARA, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- The exchange of high level visits between Turkey and Iran is expected to give further momentum on improving bilateral ties, with new joint-cabinet meeting being considered.

The new momentum on ties was announced during the visit of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to Turkey on Saturday.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said both countries have decided to establish a High Level Cooperation Council mechanism.

"Hopefully we will complete the preparations for this mechanism before our prime minister's visit to Iran," he said.

High Level Cooperation Council is a joint intergovernmental meeting to fast track cooperation and cut the red tape in bureaucracies in respective countries. Turkey has similar mechanisms with over dozen countries.

"As long as Ankara fails to ease the tension in its relations with countries like Iraq and Syria, Iran stands as the only alternate partner for Turkey with whom to approach certain regional issues," Gokhan Bacik, lecturer on international relations at Ipek University in the Turkish capital of Ankara.

"In other words, without Iran, Ankara may feel somehow isolated in various regional issues," he added.

Davutoglu also announced that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit Iran at the end of January, to be followed by a reciprocal visit to Turkey by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

"When Rouhani became the Iranian president, Turkey and Iran decided to communicate frequently, if possible every month, to discuss our mutual agendas and exchange views. I can say that we have accomplished this in the past five months," Davutoglu said.

AMBITION HIGH BUT TRADE VOLUME DROPPED

The economy ministers of both countries are expected to meet in Iran next week for a joint economic commission meeting. The Turkish and Iranian energy ministers are also scheduled to meet to exchange views next month.

Turkey would like to increase its trade volume with Iran in the next two years, targeting 30 billion U.S. dollars. Davutoglu added that trade volume can even increase to 50 billion U.S. dollars if legal issues can be worked out.

Iran is under international sanctions due to its nuclear energy program, although some of the sanctions have been eased since the end of November after Iran reached a deal with Western countries to curb its nuclear program.

In the first eleven months of last year, the trade volume between Iran and Turkey had dropped 35 percent from 20.9 billion dollars in 2012 to 13.5 billion U.S. dollars. The unprecedented increase in 2012 was largely attributed to spike in gold sales to Iran as the country was having difficulty in processing international financial transactions.

Turkey-Iran Business Council President Ali Osman Ulusoy said the two nations need each other as Turkey is vital to opening the West to Iran and Iran is Turkey's door to the East.

Close relations between these two regional powers will not only bear fruit for their common interests but will make a larger contributions to the creation and increase of wealth and prosperity in the entire region, Ulusoy explained.

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif said trade volume of 30 billion U.S. dollars is a goal within reach, adding to that both countries are willing to develop better relations in energy, transportation, trade and economy.

The two countries also agreed to mutually ease consulate- related requirements.

In 2012, Iran's investments in Turkey reached 10 times higher than that of 2002 while the number of the Iranian companies established in Turkey has also seen a tremendous increase in the meantime.

There are 200 Turkish companies in Iran, and their total investment stock in this country is 1 billion U.S. dollars.

TURKEY WELCOMES NUCLEAR DEAL

The Turkish foreign minister said his country welcomed the interim deal reached between Iran and major world powers.

"From Turkey's perspective, the nuclear deal, if successfully implemented and made permanent after six months, is set to eliminate a major security concern." Sinan Ulgen, chairman of the Istanbul-based Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies ( EDAM).

"Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government does not want to be faced with a nuclear Iran, fearing the emergence of an asymmetric power relationship with the Islamic Republic after centuries of balanced ties," he added.

Tehran said the timetable for the implementation of the nuclear deal will be declared after minor issues between Iran and the world powers are resolved.

DIFFERENCES ON SYRIA REMAIN

Though Zarif said Tehran is working with Turkey to resolve their differences over Syria, they prove to be difficult to overcome.

He stated that "Iran and Turkey have common views on finding a solution to regional problems and conflicts, preventing war and brotherly fights, the battle against extremism and respect for the will of people in the region."

Davutoglu lamented that during his Tehran visit in late November, he had called for a cease-fire in Syria together with his Iranian counterpart, but the attacks in Syria have not stopped.

The Syrian opposition and representatives from the Syrian regime will meet in Geneva this month to resolve the three-year long Syrian crisis.

Turkey is hosting more than 600,000 Syrians in camps in its southern provinces near the Syrian border.

GRAFT NOT DISCUSSED

Speculations had emerged before Zarif's visit that the recent corruption investigation in which Iranian nationals were implicated could have brought to the discussion. While "the issue was not on the agenda and never been discussed," Turkish daily Zaman reported, quoting unnamed government official.

Last month, state lender Halkbank General Manager Suleyman Aslan, Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab and the sons of two ministers were arrested along with 20 others as part of the major corruption investigation.

Zarrab's partner Babak Zanjani, also Iranian national, escaped to Iran only to be arrested by Iranian authorities.

Halkbank's Iranian business ties were criticized by the U.S. amid sanctions imposed on Iranian financial institutions. The bank in turn stated that its dealings with Iran are entirely lawful after its general manager was arrested.

Editor: yan
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