The Turkish President met Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei and President Raisi ahead of a trilateral summit with Russian President Putin, with Ukraine and Syria on the agenda.
Tehran, Iran – Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has advised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan not to launch a new military operation in Syria before Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives for a trilateral summit.
A new military operation would be “to the detriment of Syria, Turkey and the region”, Khamenei was quoted as saying by his website on Tuesday.
The supreme leader did say that Iran would “certainly” cooperate with Turkey “in the fight against terrorism”, but he argued that a new offensive in Syria would in fact benefit the “terrorists”, who he said , “are not limited to a certain group”. “, without further details.
Khamenei sought to reassure Erdogan that Iran views Turkey’s border security as its own, and said issues in Syria must be resolved through dialogue.
Erdogan reportedly said that “terrorist” groups in the region are supported militarily by Western countries like the United States and European powers.
The comments come as Erdogan has said in recent months that he will soon launch a military offensive in at least two towns in northern Syria to create a 30 km (18.5 mile) “safe zone” by defeating the Kurdish fighters in the region that Turkey considers “terrorists”. ”.
He also warned that Sweden and Finland will not see their NATO membership plans ratified by Turkey if they do not stop supporting Kurdish fighters and refrain from extraditing individuals that Turkey considers as “terrorists”.
Iran and Turkey support the Syrian government and the opposition, respectively, but reached agreements that reduced the intensity of the conflict, while entrenching the two countries in Syria.
The Turkish president arrived in the Iranian capital on Monday evening at the head of a large delegation which included several ministers from his cabinet. He received an official welcome from Raisi on Tuesday at Saadabad Palace, where meetings with heads of state are held.
Iran and Turkey signed eight agreements after the meetings concluded, one of which would have been a 20-year cooperation agreement.
Raisi and Erdogan held a joint press conference, during which they said they aimed to boost bilateral trade to a record $30 billion.
Putin is expected to arrive later Tuesday for the trilateral summit with the two presidents in “Astana format”, with Syria on the agenda.
The fallout from the war in Ukraine and food security are also expected to be discussed during meetings between the leaders.
Earlier, a Russian plane landed at Mehrabad airport in Tehran late on Monday.
Azerbaijan and Israel
Khamenei and Erdogan also discussed the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia in 2020, during which Turkey supported the former by sending fighters and weapons during the war, and helped Azerbaijan recover the Karabakh region in Armenia.
The Supreme Leader welcomed the return of the region, but warned that “if there is a policy of blocking Iran’s borders with Armenia, the Islamic Republic will oppose it since this border is a transit link for several thousand years.
The pair also discussed Israel, Iran’s sworn enemy with which Turkey has recently grown closer.
Last month Turkey hosted Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and also said it had foiled an alleged Iranian plot to kill Israeli citizens in Istanbul, a charge Iran has denied.
Economic ties were also discussed, with the Turkish president saying he opposes unilateral US sanctions on Iran – which were imposed after the US abandoned the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran – and will encourage Turkish companies to invest in the country.
Iran has been considering a long-term cooperation agreement with neighboring Turkey for some time. The document was originally supposed to be signed during a planned visit by Erdogan to Tehran in November 2021, but it did not materialize.
The two countries have been major trading partners for years, but bilateral trade has been seriously affected in recent years due to US sanctions on Iran and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Total bilateral trade volume peaked at $21 billion in 2012, but fell to a low of $1 billion in 2020. It had rebounded to $5.5 billion by the end of 2021, and the administration Raisi – who has focused on a regional diplomacy initiative – wants to boost it significantly despite US sanctions.