No country should feel threatened by its neighbors, Rouhani tells Turkish FM
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has expressed opposition to any move that will lead to a change in geographical borders of countries, saying no state in the region should feel threatened by its neighbors.
He made the remarks during a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Tehran on Wednesday.
Rouhani also underlined the need for fighting terrorism and reinforcing regional stability and security.
“Preserving countries’ independence and maintaining geographical borders will lead to promotion of security in the region, and we should make efforts and take measures in a way that no country feels threatened by its neighbors,” he added.
“Unfortunately, today certain sides seek to alter geographical borders in the region and following their defeat in the north of Iraq, they embarked on hatching plots in northern Syria,” Rouhani noted.
The meeting took place amid Turkey’s ongoing military operation, dubbed Operation Olive Branch, in Syria’s northwestern region of Afrin. The offensive aims to eliminate the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara views as a terror organization and the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Iran has urged Turkey to stop the military offensive, saying the operation breached Syrian sovereignty and would fuel tensions in the war-damaged country.
Russia has also voiced concern about the Turkish military operation in Afrin.
Moscow and Tehran have both been offering advisory military help to Syria upon request from the Damascus government.
Meanwhile, the Syrian government has called the Afrin offensive, launched on January 20, an illegal act of “aggression” and said it would deal with it accordingly.
Elsewhere in his remarks, the Iranian president underscored cooperation between Ankara, Moscow and Tehran with the aim of restoring unity to Syria, eliminating terrorism and establishing peace in the Arab country.
“Fortunately, trilateral ties among Iran, Turkey and Russia over regional issues have been highly significant and instrumental,” Rouhani said, calling for further cooperation and consultations to solve the Syrian crisis.
Touching on the Russian-brokered initiative of Sochi peace talks held late last month, Rouhani said the congress was an important step towards settling regional problems.
The Syrian Congress of National Dialog was held in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi on January 29 and 30, with delegates from the Syrian government and opposition in attendance.
In a final statement issued at the end of the congress, parties said that they agreed on a proposal to form a constitutional committee “comprising the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic delegation along with wide-represented opposition delegation for drafting of a constitutional reform as a contribution to the political settlement under the UN auspices in accordance with Security Council Resolution 2254.”
They also said the Syrian people alone shall determine the future of their country “without external pressure or interference, in line with Syria’s international rights and obligations.”
During the meeting, Rouhani also warned about bids by the US and the Israeli regime to prolong tensions in the region.
US devising new plots to undermine Ankara-Tehran ties
For his part, the Turkish foreign minister said the US was devising new plots in the region to undermine the growing ties between Ankara and Tehran, urging active cooperation in the face of such schemes.
“We believe that we should stand up to plots that aim to undermine territorial integrity of regional countries,” Cavusoglu said.
On the Afrin offensive, the top Turkish diplomat said that the operation was temporary and only aimed at terrorists in that region.
Earlier on Wednesday, Cavusoglu, who was in Tehran for a one-day official visit, also sat down with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Among issues on the agenda of Cavusoglu’s talks with Zarif was further development of bilateral ties between Iran and Turkey in different sectors, including economic ties, the Afrin operation, and the latest regional developments, including the outcome of the Sochi talks on Syria.