Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Iranian foreign minister to visit Turkey for Syria talks

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi will pay a snap visit to Turkey late Tuesday for talks on the Syrian crisis, a Turkish diplomat told AFP.

The Iranian foreign minister wanted to visit Turkey "at his own request," which was conveyed through diplomatic channels late Monday, the diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Salehi will have talks with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu in Ankara, with the Syria conflict topping the agenda, he added.

The visit comes after 48 Iranians were kidnapped on Saturday by unidentified "armed terrorist groups" as they were travelling in a bus to the airport in Damascus, according to the Iranian embassy in the Syrian capital and the Syrian state news agency SANA.

It was the single biggest abduction of Iranians since the start of the Syrian uprising in March last year.

Salehi telephoned his Turkish and Qatari counterparts, Davutoglu and Hamad bin Jasim bin Jabir Al Thani, late Saturday to request their assistance.

And Davutoglu responded by promising "to study the issue and to carry out efforts as in previous cases," the Iranian media reported.

Asked by AFP, the Turkish diplomat would not say if the situation of the pilgrims would be discussed
during the Davutoglu-Salehi meeting.

Turkey and Iran are at the opposite ends of the Syrian crisis. Ankara has been at the forefront of the international criticism against the Damascus regime's deadly response to the popular uprising, while Tehran is one of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's few allies.

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