Friends with Benefits: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
arrived in Tehran on Wednesday for a two-day visit. The focus of the visit: Iran's
nuclear program and bilateral ties.
Upon his arrival he was welcomed by Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi
who chose the visit to announce that long-stalled talks between Iran and world powers are to be revived on April 13 at a place yet to be agreed.
told the official IRNA news agency that the next round of the talks between Iran and the P5+1 group comprising the United States, Russia, France, Britain, China and Germany would take place on April 13.
Erdogan arrives in Iran (Photo: AFP)
Erdogan arrived in Tehran from South Korea, where he had attended a nuclear security summit with other world leaders including US President Barack Obama.
At a media conference with Salehi, Erdogan dodged a question about whether he was carrying a message from Obama for Iran's leaders.
"During a meeting in South Korea, there were discussions with them (the P5+1 nations) about the talks taking place in Turkey, and there were steps in that regard and now we are waiting for their response," he replied instead.
Erdogan also slammed the bellicose language directed against Iran, saying: "Military threats against a country that seeks to master peaceful nuclear technology are not acceptable."
Salehi likewise did not directly respond to an earlier AFP question about Erdogan communicating any message from Obama, saying: "So far we've only talked about bilateral issues."
Obama warned in Seoul on Monday at the start of the nuclear summit that "time is short" for a diplomatic solution to the standoff with Iran.
"Iran must act with the seriousness and sense of urgency that this moment demands," he said.
Erdogan, who was accompanied by several key ministers and intelligence and military officials, was to meet Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during his visit, Iranian officials said.
Turkey relies on Iran for 30 percent of its oil imports, and has refused to go along with sanctions imposed by the United States and Europe, saying it will observe only UN-mandated restrictions on Iran.
However, Turkey is also a NATO member, and it has agreed to deploy parts of an anti-missile shield that could be used against Iran, a point that has generated friction in the past with its neighbor.
The two countries are heavyweight players in the Middle East.
They hold different positions on several issues, notably on Syria. Ankara wants to see Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step down as part of a solution to the crisis there, while Tehran is giving Assad political and material support.
AFP contributed to the report