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Rouhani: Iran, Turkey anchors of stability in Middle East

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani (R) shakes hands with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan following their joint press conference in Tehran on October 4, 2017. (Photos by IRNA)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says Iran and Turkey are "anchors of stability" in the Middle East region, and fighting terrorism is top on the agenda of the two countries.

“Fighting terrorism is one of the important objectives of the two countries. We need to fight any terrorist group anywhere, be it Daesh… or the al-Nusra Front or the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) or whatever name they have. Terrorists should know that regional governments will not allow them to carry out their cowardly and inhumane activities,” Rouhani said at a joint press conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan following their meeting in Tehran on Wednesday.

The Iranian president said that he had held detailed talks with his Turkish counterpart on critical issues in the region, including the Syrian crisis and Iraq’s Kurdistan region, stressing that Ankara and Tehran sought establishment of peace, stability and security in the entire region.  

Describing Iran and Turkey as two powerful countries in the region, Rouhani said Tehran and Ankara were against disintegration of the region and opposed plots by foreign countries to foment sectarian and ethnic rifts in the Middle East.

“In the opinion of the two countries, Iraq is a unified country and so is Syria, and we will by no means accept a change in geographical borders,” he said.

Touching on the September 25 referendum in Iraq’s Kurdistan region, the Iranian president described the Kurdish region as a good neighbor of Iran and Turkey, saying, “We do not want to impose pressure on Iraq’s Kurdistan people, but certain leaders of this region must make up for the wrong decisions they have made. Therefore, Turkey, Iran and Iraq have no choice but to take new and necessary measures to achieve their strategic goals in the region.”  

On bilateral ties, Rouhani said the two sides had discussed cooperation in the tourism, petrochemical and transportation industries as well as the banking sector, adding that Turkey was ready to import more natural gas from Iran.

The two countries are determined to boost economic and trade ties, Rouhani said, adding that Ankara and Tehran were targeting an annual trade volume of $30 billion.

The Iranian president also said that the two countries had agreed to conduct trade in their own currencies.

Erdogan, for his part, said Turkey would take stronger steps in response to last week's Kurdistan region referendum, adding that Ankara had already taken some measures in coordination with the Iraqi central government and Iran.

He said Turkey considered the referendum “illegitimate,” stressing that the vote was supported by Israel and could only isolate the Kurdish region.

The Turkish leader also said that the goal of raising Turkish-Iranian trade volume to $30 billion from the current $10 billion remained on the agenda, and that the two sides would conduct trade in their own currencies to limit foreign exchange pressures.

Iran, Turkey sign 4 cooperation agreements  

Meanwhile, senior officials from Iran and Turkey signed four cooperation agreements in the presence of the Iranian and Turkish presidents.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani (seated, R) and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan (seated, L) attend a ceremony for signing eight cooperation agreements between the two countries.

The documents include memoranda of understanding on cooperation in the customs and banking sectors as well as cooperation between the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) and the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB).

Heading a high-ranking politico-economic delegation, Erdogan arrived in Tehran on Wednesday to hold talks with senior Iranian officials on a host of issues, including the latest regional developments and bilateral economic ties.  

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Iran, Turkey issue joint statement

A joint statement was also issued at the end of the Turkish president’s visit to Iran, which outlined Tehran-Ankara stance on bilateral ties as well as matters of mutual concern.

In the statement, Tehran and Ankara highlighted the 2015 Iranian nuclear agreement -- known as the joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) -- as an efficient model of successful diplomacy for resolution of international issues.

They also underlined the need for the full implementation of the deal by all parties.

The Iranian and Turkish presidents also condemned any act of violence or extremism against the Rohingya Muslim minority group in Myanmar.

They called on Myanmar’s government to immediately put an end to the grave situation of the Muslims, which has led to the displacement of a large number of the group, to pay heed to calls by international organizations, including the UN and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), to restore the rights of the persecuted group and allow access to Myanmar’s conflict zone.

The statement also denounced Israel’s restrictions on Palestinians’ access to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, calling on the international community to press for the establishment of the Palestinian state with Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.     

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