Iranian vice president visits Turkey amid Syria crisis

Iran’s Vice President for International Affairs Ali Saidlu was scheduled to »»

Iran’s Vice President for International Affairs Ali Saidlu was scheduled to arrive in Ankara an official visit on Wednesday evening, at a time of heightened tensions between Turkey and Syria over Syria’s shooting down of a Turkish military jet.

Official talks are set to start on Thursday, the Anatolia news agency reported, when Saidlu is expected to meet with President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Saidlu will invite Turkey to attend a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) on Aug. 30-31 in Tehran. The movement, founded in 1961 in Belgrade, comprises 120 member nations that define themselves as non-aligned formally with or against any major power bloc. But the issue of the jet crisis with Syria is also expected to come up. Iran is opposed to a possible regime change in Syria and is also accused by the international community of providing military and intelligence support to the Syrian administration. Turkey is a staunch critic of embattled President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, as recent developments have seen the evolution of the internationally discussed Syrian crisis into a bilateral problem between Turkey and Syria.

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has reiterated his call to both Turkish and Syrian authorities to show restraint over the jet crisis. Salehi, visiting the Kazakh capital of Astana upon an invitation from his Kazakh counterpart, Yerzhan Kazykhanov, made a similar call to Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu during a phone conversation on Sunday.

Touching upon a series of economic sanctions the EU has taken against Iran relating to its nuclear program, Salehi invited the bloc to resolve this issue rationally. Western powers and Israel are very skeptical regarding the Iranian nuclear program, which is feared to be developing nuclear weapons. Iran insistently claims that its program aims only to generate energy.


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Columnist: TODAY'S ZAMAN