ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Iran welcomes steps toward a reconciliation between Turkey and Syria and is ready to help move the efforts forward, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said Tuesday.
The Iranian minister made the comments in Ankara, weeks after the Turkish and Syrian defense ministers held talks in Moscow. It was the first ministerial-level meeting between Damascus and Ankara since relations broke down with the start of the Syrian civil war nearly 12 years ago.
“We are very pleased that the relations between Damascus and Ankara have undergone a change recently,” Amirabdollahian said during a joint news conference with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu.
“We think that any development between Ankara and Damascus — this positive development — will benefit our region, the two countries and (Iran). Considering its close relationship with these two countries, as the Islamic Republic of Iran, we will do our best to achieve this goal as soon as possible.”
Turkey and Syria have stood on opposing sides of the Syrian conflict, with Turkey backing rebels trying to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad. Iran, along with Russia, has supported Assad’s government.
Pressed by Russia, Turkey has agreed to engage with the Syrian government. Cavusoglu has said he could meet Syria’s foreign minister next month.
Damascus has denounced Turkey’s hold over stretches of northern Syria seized in a series of military incursions since 2016 to drive away Kurdish rebels. A statement from Assad’s office last week said that Moscow-backed talks with Turkey should aim to “end the occupation and the support of terrorism" -- a reference to Turkey’s backing of insurgents in Syria.
“In today’s meetings we emphasized that Iran’s contributions (to rapprochement with Syria) are very important,” Cavusoglu said. “In the process ahead, we will work in close cooperation with Iran on next steps and on steps that will bring solutions.”