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Turkey, Iran lay plans as honeymoon draws to close

Iran appears keen to snatch Turkey away from its traditional axis, but the two sides remain at odds over the Syrian crisis, the crucial starting point for any new chapter in bilateral ties.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan (L) welcomes his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani during the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Istanbul Summit in Istanbul, Turkey April 14, 2016. REUTERS/Berk Ozkan/Pool      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX29X07
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The aftermath of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Aug. 9 meeting with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, has seen a flurry of Turkish-Iranian and Russian-Iranian contacts centered on the Syrian crisis. Expectations have grown that the bilateral contacts will turn into a trilateral mechanism. Statements from Moscow and Tehran have fed optimism that a common understanding is close, with officials highlighting the preservation of Syria’s territorial integrity, the Syrian people’s right to decide their future and the fight against terrorism.

As Ankara scrambles to make a foreign policy pivot, a series of important developments around the Syrian crisis have gone largely unnoticed. On June 9, the defense ministers of Iran, Syria and Russia came together in Tehran for the first time since the Syrian crisis broke out more than five years ago. According to Iranian state television, the meeting indicated that the Syrian war had entered its "final stage."

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