Turkey, Iran seek joint efforts against terrorism

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, have exchanged Eid al-Fitr greetings amid a call from Tehran to stage a joint fight against terrorism.

Rouhani expressed his sorrow about a June 28 terror attack at Istanbul’s Atatürk International Airport that claimed 47 lives, according to a statement on the website of the Iranian Embassy in Ankara. 

“The struggle against terrorism requires close cooperation between the two countries and the serious steps by the two countries against this evil will surely eradicate terrorism in the region,” Rouhani told Erdoğan on the phone, according to the embassy. 

Turkish authorities said the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) was responsible for the attack.

Turkish presidency sources also said Rouhani highlighted the importance of international cooperation against terrorism, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported. 

Thanking Iran for expressing sympathy with Turkey over the recent terrorist attacks, Erdoğan highlighted the necessity for concerted action against terrorists, according to the website of Tasnim News Agency. 

The Iranian leader “touched the deep partnerships between the two countries and highlighted that the conditions are suitable for both countries to develop relations in all fields,” the embassy said. 

Rouhani also said rapidly implementing trade accords between the two countries would be an important step forward to developing mutual relations. 

Tehran and Ankara have been engaged in a major row over Syria, with the former actively supporting President Bashar al-Assad and the latter calling for the Syrian leader to go.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said in a July 4 interview with French daily Le Monde that Ankara had been in talks with Russia and Iran to discuss the future of Syria.    

“Turkey still believes Syrians and the opposition do not want to accept al-Assad. Al-Assad used chemical weapons and barrel bombs to kill 500,000 people,” he said.        

“We are resolute about further developing our realistic, friendly and peaceful relationships – from Russia to Israel, Egypt to Syria, Iraq to Iran, and EU countries to the United States. We will continue to do so,” Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said the same day, describing the situation in Syria as “unsustainable.” 

Turkey has been involved in a broad diplomatic campaign to mend its ties with neighbors, with Erdoğan talking on the phone with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to end a crisis that was precipitated by Turkey’s downing of a jet last year and Ankara signing a deal with Israel to put an end to frozen ties following a 2010 Israeli attack on a Turkish aid flotilla bound for Gaza that claimed 10 lives. 

Turkey has been in talks with Russia, another supporter of the al-Assad regime, over the fight against terrorism in Syria. 

Anadolu Agency reported that Erdoğan also talked on the phone with Khaled Mashaal, the political leader of Hamas. 

Mashaal extended condolences to Erdoğan over a helicopter crash late on July 5 that claimed the lives of seven soldiers and civilians. 

As part of the Eid al-Fitr celebrations, the president also spoke to Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari and Indonesian President Joko Widodo. 

Erdoğan congratulated Nazarbayev on his birthday and discussed the Kazakh president’s upcoming visit to Turkey in August.