Turkey and Iran both expressed a commitment to furthering their bilateral ties on Friday during high-level talks as tensions escalate along the Turkish-Syrian border.
“We want Turkish-Iranian relations to progress so as to contribute to the peace and wellbeing of the peoples of the two countries and the region,” President Abdullah Gül told visiting Iranian First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi during a meeting, according to a statement issued by Gül's office.
Rahimi, who also met with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Thursday, said the Iranian administration is committed to deepening relations with Turkey in all areas.
Rahimi's visit came amid fears that the Syrian crisis could spill over into the region after Turkey hit targets in Syria in retaliation for the deaths of five civilians in a border town caused by mortar shells fired from Syria on Wednesday.
Iran, a strong ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has called for restraint. “The Islamic Republic of Iran calls on both sides to exercise self-restraint, launch a close study over the case and pay heed to the [hidden] goals of the enemies,” Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Amir Abdollahian was quoted as saying by Fars News Agency on Thursday.
Syria has said an investigation has been launched to determine the source of the mortar shell that killed five civilians in the border town of Akçakale and sent its condolences to the Turkish people. The Turkish Parliament, on the other hand, passed a motion on Thursday allowing the government to send troops abroad when the government deems necessary, a move that has raised fears a war with Syria could be imminent. The government, on the other hand, said the motion was aimed at deterrence and was not a declaration of war.
Contrary to Iran, Turkey is a staunch opponent of Assad and provides support to the Free Syrian Army (FSA) that seeks to topple him.
On Friday, Iranian Chief of Staff Hassan Firouzabadi warned against a war between Turkey and Syria, saying the US and other Western countries will be the only ones to benefit from it. Firouzabadi said both Turkey and Syria would face bigger problems if they enter into a war and that the Muslim world's interests would also be harmed.