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Iran's top diplomat to visit Turkey amid Erdogan-Assad thaw

The foreign ministers of the two nations will hold talks next week amid ongoing Ankara-Damascus rapprochement.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Thursday that his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, would travel to Turkey next week amid ongoing Russian efforts to convene the top Turkish, Syrian and Russian diplomats.

Speaking in Rwanda, the third stop of his Africa trip, Cavusoglu said he would meet with Abdollahian next Tuesday, and “the Iranian President can also visit Turkey in the upcoming days.” 

Abdollahian’s planned visit comes amid Russian-mediated efforts to convene a meeting between the Syrian and Turkish foreign ministers. Russia and Iran, which are backing Damascus against the country’s armed opposition groups, have long been pressing Ankara to engage in a political dialogue with the Syrian government. Turkey, however, backs armed rebels fighting to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Ankara, Tehran and Moscow are also founding members of the so-called “Astana process” aiming to find a political solution to the Syrian civil war. 

Cavusoglu said that Damascus, Moscow and Ankara have not found a date yet, but it might be as soon as early February.

The Turkish defense and intelligence chiefs met their Syrian and Russian counterparts in Moscow last month in the first high-level contact between Ankara and Damascus after more than a decade. 

In addition to the rapprochement between Ankara and Damascus, a series of other regional issues are expected to be discussed during Abdollahian’s visit. Ties between Azerbaijan and Iran will likely be a top agenda item. Tensions have been simmering over the Nagorno Karabakh region contested between Armenia and Azerbaijan and protests in Iran’s predominantly Azeri northern regions. Turkish-backed Azeri troops captured several regions in Nagorno Karabakh  from Armenia in 2020, changing the balance of power in the region. Iran, for its part, has been increasing its support of Armenia. 

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