Raisi expected for talks in Ankara Iranian President Raisi is expected in Turkey for talks – the third attempt at a visit to the neighboring country. In addition to the Middle East conflict, there are many bilateral issues to discuss.
Iranian President Raisi Expected in Turkey for Talks on Counterterrorism Efforts and Bilateral Relations
Raisi expected for talks in Ankara Iranian President Raisi is expected in Turkey for talks – the third attempt at a visit to the neighboring country. In addition to the Middle East conflict, there are many bilateral issues to discuss. The ultraconservative Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is expected today for his first visit to Turkey since his election in the summer of 2021. The bilateral talks are expected to focus on joint counterterrorism efforts. Turkish officials stated that they expect more engagement from Tehran, with a particular focus on Kurdish PKK and allied groups in Iran.
Both neighboring countries are important actors in the region: they sit at the same table with Russia in the Astana talks on the Syrian conflict. However, they have different interests there. Recently, Iran apparently targeted an ISIS headquarters in the northern Syrian region of Idlib, where Turkey is also militarily active.
Additionally, it was stated beforehand that the Gaza conflict would be discussed at the meeting. Both countries stand on the side of the Palestinians. However, at the beginning of the conflict, Turkey positioned itself as a mediator unlike Iran, before Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attacked Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the “butcher of Gaza” and made Nazi comparisons. This may also play a role during President Raisi’s visit. Western observers suspect Iran as the puppet master behind the Hamas terrorist organization’s attack on Israel, the attacks by Hezbollah in Lebanon, or the Houthi rebels in the Red Sea.
Deepening relations – primarily economically
Turkish diplomats informed the state-run Turkish news agency Anadolu that the neighboring countries have agreed not to interfere in each other’s internal affairs. In fact, Erdogan did not comment on the protests following the death of Iranian student Jina Mahsa Amini after a headscarf check in Tehran. Critics suspected that he feared that the protests could spread to Turkey.
Now, Raisi and Erdogan want to discuss how to further deepen the relationship, according to the presidential palace in Ankara. Economic issues play a major role in this regard. Anadolu reports on several agreements that both sides want to conclude: the aim is to quintuple the trade volume, which has plummeted due to Western sanctions. Energy supply is a key point.
For Turkey, Iran is an important natural gas supplier, although this has also led to tensions as Tehran does not always deliver the desired amount.
Transport connections between the countries
Tourism also plays a major role. In the past year, more than two million Iranians traveled to Turkey for vacation. They can enter without a visa.
However, many refugees also enter through the approximately 560-kilometer-long shared border, which is partially secured by a wall. According to Anadolu, there are plans to open two more border crossings. And soon, the first trains from the Turkish border town of Van to Tehran are expected to run since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Turkish Airlines plans to expand flight connections to the neighboring country.
The West is likely to closely monitor the meeting between the two presidents, not only because of a possible influence of Erdogan on Raisi’s foreign policy but also due to its own extensive sanctions against Iran, which also affect the economy.