"The Zionist regime is a threat to all nations and it wants the region to be free of strong countries," Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during their meeting in Tehran on Tuesday.
"Today we see that applying force in Gaza was not enough for them (Israel) so they are attacking holy Jerusalem," the Iranian leader added.
Ahmadinejad told Erdogan, who arrived in Iran Monday night, that Turkey's "clear stance regarding the Zionist regime will have positive effects throughout the world.
"Iran and Turkey share common interests and threats, and if we stand by each other we will be able to overcome all of the threats," the Iranian president added.
Addressing the global economic crisis, Ahmadinejad said it was a testament to the "dead end" the West has reached "both in theory and in practice."
"The world is yearning for new theories. Turkey and Iran can fill this void," the Iranian president said during the meeting.
Erdogan (L) and Ahmadinejad (R) in Tehran (Photo: AFP)
Alluding to Israel's nuclear arsenal, Ahmadinejad said that when an "illegal regime has atomic weapons, it's impossible to block others" from having peaceful nuclear energy.
The remarks come as UN inspectors are visiting a formerly secret uranium enrichment site in Iran.
Ahmadinejad said his country will persist in its nuclear program, despite international concerns over it.
His remarks were the first since a UN-backed draft was put forth aimed at easing tensions with the West.
Iran is to respond to the proposal this week. The plan envisages Tehran sending out most of uranium abroad for enrichment, which would reduce its stockpile and limit any nuclear arms making capability.
Referring to Ahmadinejad, Erdogan told British newspaper The Guardian, "There is no doubt he is our friend."
During the interview, published Monday, the Turkish leader justified his ties with Iran, dismissing claims that his criticism against Israel could harm his country's relations with the United States.
"I don't think there is any possibility of that," he said. "America's policy in this region is not dictated by Israel."
Erdogan's visit to Iran comes two weeks after Ankara canceled an annual joint air force drill because it opposed Israeli participation.
Turkey, a secular country ruled by an Islamic-oriented party, had long been Israel's best friend in the Muslim world. But ties have cooled sharply over Prime Minister Erdogan's sharp criticism of Israel's winter war in the Gaza Strip.
Relations between Israel and Turkey were further strained after a state-owned Turkish television station recently aired a show depicting IDF soldiers as bloodthirsty child-killers.
Associated Press contributed to the report