Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan discussed the Syrian crisis in his unscheduled meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad yesterday during the 12th Summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) in Baku.
The pair discussed the Syrian crisis in their 40-minute long meeting and exchanged views on U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi’s recent visit to the region while emphasizing increased efforts to stop the bloodshed, according to the Anatolia News Agency.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Numan Kurtulmuş, deputy chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), were also present at the meeting. According to reports, Erdoğan said Turkey responded appropriately in regards to the Akçakale incident on Oct. 3, where five people were killed by Syrian shelling, and ‘continues to practice required measures.’ The Iranian leader showed support for Turkey regarding the incident and said Tehran will ‘continue to support’ Ankara on this issue. Party for Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK), the Iranian wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party(PKK), were also discussed by the leaders.
Earlier reports had suggested that no face-to-face meeting would take place between the leaders due to Turkey and Iran’s worsening relations. Yet following the meeting with Erdoğan, Ahmadinejad agreed to lift the veto on Turkish Cyprus. An agreement was signed at the event granting the republic observer status. Meanwhile, U.S. Acting Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller held talks with diplomats in Ankara on a range of issues including the Syrian crisis.
Gottemoeller’s visit comes after Turkey forced a Syrian airliner from Moscow to land in Ankara last week, yet sources from the event stressed that Gottemoeller’s visit was scheduled in advance and had no connection to the plane incident.
Turkey right on plane: Russia
In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Turkey acted within its rights and in line with the Chicago Convention when grounding the Syrian plane. However,Russia would still like an official explanation on the reasons behind the incident, Lavrov said.
The U.S. called on all of Syria’s neighbors to keep a careful watch over their airspace. “We support the decision that Turkey has made,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.
“We are encouraging all of Syria’s neighbors to be vigilant with regard to how their airspace is used, particularly now that we have this concrete example,” she said. Erdoğan reiterated on Oct. 15 that the cargo Ankara confiscated from the intercepted Syrian passenger jet contained weapons. “It is beyond any doubt that the cargo is war equipment,” Erdoğan told.
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