November 16, 2021
Tehran and Ankara are set to agree a plan for long-term cooperation, Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s Foreign Minister told a joint press conference in Tehran Monday.
Tehran signed a 25-year cooperation deal with China in March and is discussing a similar strategic agreement with Russia. Cavusoglu was speaking alongside Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.
“Our delegations will work to determine a roadmap for a long-term comprehensive cooperation upon Iran’s proposal,” said Cavusoglu, who arrived in Tehran Monday. The minister expressed hope this could be signed during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Tehran later this year for the seventh meeting of the two countries’ High-Level Cooperation Council.
“With the President of the Republic, we discussed our bilateral relations, including trade, investments, and the fight against terrorism, and the latest developments in our region,” the Turkish foreign minister tweeted after meeting with Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi (Raeesi) in his first visit since Raisi took office in August.
Cavusoglu described United States sanctions against Iran as “wrong,” and urged all parties to revive Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), from which former US president Donald Trump withdrew in 2018, slapping ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions on Iran.
“Those who withdrew from this agreement in particular need to take the necessary steps,” Cavusoglu said, adding that a positive outcome to the Vienna nuclear talks aimed at reviving the JCPOA was important for regional stability. Unlike Israel and Saudi Arabia, Turkey has supported the agreement.
Cavusoglu welcomed as promising increasing trade between Tehran and Ankara − up 71 percent in volume this year − but said it was “very far from our goals.” Bilateral trade stands at around $4 billion. Amir-Abdollahian told the press that obstacles in the way of trade between the two neighboring countries, presumably a reference to US ‘maximum pressure,’ required countermeasures to clear the way for more trade.
Cavusoglu said he had discussed security issues such as terrorism, migration, and human smuggling with his Iranian counterpart. Turkey has been a conduit for refugees from Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, while Ankara and Tehran have intermittently cooperated against Kurdish groups, especially those linked to the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party).
Among regional issues where Ankara and Tehran saw eye to eye, Cavusoglu told the press conference, was Syria, where a political solution was needed, and over the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. “Our leaders and ministers of foreign affairs will get together in the near future,” the minister said. Some analysts have argued Turkey’s priorities in Syria have long shifted from supporting the Sunni opposition to President Bashar al-Assad, an Iranian ally, towards containing the Syrian Kurds.