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Erdogan Meets Rouhani following Angry Exchanges | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) shakes hands with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani during an official welcoming ceremony at the presidential complex in Ankara on April 16, 2016 (AFP Photo/Adem Altan)

Ankara – Turkey is moving towards diffusing tension with Iran, following angry exchanges between the two countries’ leaders over the past month.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, on Wednesday, on the sidelines of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO)’s 13th plenary session in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad.

While no statements were issued following the meeting, the two presidents agreed to improve ties, including in the fight against terrorism, Iran’s state news agency IRNA reported.

Last month, Erdogan and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu threw harsh accusations against Iran for trying to destabilize Syria and Iraq.

In response, Tehran summoned Ankara’s ambassador, while Rouhani was quoted by IRNA as saying on Wednesday: “Iran supports the territorial integrity of regional countries … especially Iraq and Syria.”

However, in a move seen as conciliatory, Cavusoglu told IRNA in an interview on Wednesday that Ankara had appreciated Tehran’s expressions of support for his government during a failed military coup against Erdogan on July 15, 2016.

“Iran was with us to support our government in every minute at that night while some other countries only called us days or even weeks after the attempted coup,” IRNA quoted him as saying.

Commenting on Iran and Turkey’s positions on Syria, the Turkish foreign minister said: “Iran and Turkey have common understanding to maintain ceasefire in Syria and both believe in political solution to the crisis in Syria along with delivering humanitarian assistance without any discrimination.”

“Therefore situation in Syria, Iraq and other regional issues will be discussed between the two presidents in their meeting later today,” he added.

Last month, Iran’s foreign ministry summoned the Turkish ambassador to Tehran over the comments by Erdogan and Cavusoglu at a Munich security conference.

Turkish Ambassador Hakan Tekin’s appearance at the foreign ministry followed remarks earlier in the day by Bahram Ghasemi, the ministry spokesman, who said that Iran might soon lose its patience with Turkey if it continues making “sarcastic remarks against Iran.”