Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salihi came to Ankara yesterday [August 8] to ask for help in freeing 48 Iranian pilgrims abducted in Syria, but was shocked by what he heard. As soon as Salihi landed in Ankara he was given the Turkish reaction to Iran's incessant statements. In their three-hour meeting Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told Salihi that statements of Iranian officials accusing Turkey of being responsible for what is happening in Syria were not acceptable.
Salihi reportedly replied, “You should only consider our official statements,” and blamed news agencies for reporting the others.
Davutoglu was not satisfied by the Iranian minister's explanation and gave this message: “Nobody can threaten Turkey. We have been neighbors for so long. Don’t test us.”
Assad was not discussed
The two ministers reviewed developments in Syria but did not discuss the transition that will follow President Bashar al-Assad's departure. A statement by Iranian Chief of Staff Hassan Firozabad that some countries, including Turkey, were acting under American influence and that “if these countries continue on this course they should know that after Syria it will be Turkey’s and their turns” cast a heavy shadow over the ministerial meeting. Upon Salihi's arrival in Ankara, the Turkish foreign ministry issued a statement that said: “This is irresponsible. You cannot threaten us.”
Davutoglu told Salihi: “We are inviting Iranian officials to cease their baseless remarks about our country and act in the spirit of good neighborliness.”
Four messages for Iran
The Turkish Foreign Ministry said that Davutoglu delivered four messages to Salihi:
- We strongly denounce baseless accusations and extremely imprudent threats issued against our country by Iranian officials — above all, by Chief of Staff Hassan Firozabad.
- Turkey has always acted in a principled manner, as it did in recent nuclear negotiations. The continuation of anti-Turkish remarks amounts, nevertheless, to recklessness.
- Everyone inside and outside of Syria knows who is responsible for the human drama caused by the Syrian regime and the deaths of hundreds of innocent people every day. They will certainly be called to account for their acts when judged by history and conscience.
- Irresponsible statements must stop.
Salihi asked Turkey to get involved in efforts to secure the release of 48 Iranian pilgrims kidnapped in Syria. Salihi had called Davutoglu earlier to ask for his assistance. Davutoglu told him, “We are doing everything possible purely out of humanitarian considerations and as called for by our friendship with the Iranian people.”
Turkmen issue again on the table
Davutoglu, who became the first Turkish foreign minister to visit Kirkuk in 75 years, put the Turkmen issue back on the table. Yesterday, Davutoglu received delegations of the Iraqi Turkmen Front and the Syrian Turkmens. He assured the Iraqi delegation that they have the full support of Turkey. To Syrian Turkmens, Davutoglu said: “Support the opposition. Take action to take your place in a new Syrian government.”
Iraq: We have to review our relations
Iraqi government spokesman Ali Debbagh said yesterday: “The Iraqi Council of Ministers has decided to review its relations with Turkey in view of Ahmet Davutoglu’s visit to Kirkuk.” He added that a committee was formed under Deputy Prime Minister Hussein Shehristani to review the effects of Davutoglu’s visit and to advise the cabinet as soon as possible.
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