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Iranian military chief meets Turkish president

Iranian Chief of Staff Major General Mohammad Bagheri [almashhad-alyemeni]
Iranian Chief of Staff Major General Mohammad Baqeri [almashhad-alyemeni]

The Iranian army chief today held talks with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and military leaders in Ankara over defence issues, counter-terrorism and the Syrian conflict.

In what is the first visit to Turkey by an Iranian chief of staff since Iran's 1979 revolution, Major General Mohammad Baqeri met his Turkish counterpart, General Hulusi Akar, as well as the Defence Minister Fikri Isik and Erdogan.

The officials also discussed education and defence ties, with both countries having agreed to the sharing of information, student exchanges and holding joint military training exercises.

The two sides also discussed the Kurdish referendum for independence due to be held in September in northern Iraq, with both vehemently opposing it and agreeing that it will only increase tensions.

Read more: Turkey: Kurdish independence vote could start civil war in Iraq

Iran's official news agency, IRNA, described the visit as unprecedented in the history of Iranian-Turkish relations.

There have been no such visits between the two countries for a long time, but considering regional developments and security issues – border security and the fight against terrorism – there was a need for such a visit

Baqeri told Iranian state television upon his arrival in Turkey on Tuesday.

In recent months, Turkey's relations with its traditional allies – the US and EU countries – have been strained after the US equipped and armed Kurds in Syria and America, Germany and other European countries' refusal to extradite suspects in the coup attempt which took place in July 2016.

Despite Turkey backing the opposition fighters in Syria, and Iran supporting regime President Bashar Al-Assad, the two have been able to agree to the establishment of four de-escalation zones, or safe zones, in Syria to quell the conflict in the country, and discussions are currently underway regarding the policing of the zones.

According to Baqeri, Erdogan will head a senior delegation in a visit to Iran in the near future with the goal of further improving bilateral economic, political and military ties

Europe & RussiaIranMiddle EastNewsTurkey
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