9 June 2014, Ankara-Turkey
President Rouhani's Turkey visit a turning point in relations between D-8’s two important members
Iranian President Hasan Rouhani, who pays a historic visit to Turkey with an Iranian delegation composed of one vice president, seven ministers and a number of businessmen, described partnership between Turkey and Iran as 'strategic' and 'strong' with future plans to deepen relations in every field.

Iranian President Hasan Rouhani arrived in Ankara early June 9 for crucial talks on a number of key issues in his first official trip to Turkey since he took over the presidency last year.

Rouhani was welcomed by Turkish President Abdullah Gül at an official ceremony. The two presidents announced they have decided to improve bilateral relations at the joint press conference following their meeting. “[Rouhani] is the first Iranian president who has paid an official visit to Turkey in the last 18 years. This is why the visit is historic,” Gül said, describing Iran as “an old, valuable friend.”

“The visit carries our bilateral relations forward in every area. We expressed our common will during the meeting,” Gül said, stressing that several deals from culture to economy have been agreed upon. “Our relations are not just about two countries. They are important for the whole region and the world,” Gül said.

Rouhani emphasized the joint target of increasing bilateral trade from $15 billion to $30 billion. “Instability [in the region] is not in the favour of anyone in the world,” Rouhani said, adding that integrating Turkish railroads with Iranian ones in the border town of Bazergan was one of the deals agreed upon during the June 9 meeting.

The two presidents also said they will meet businessmen from both countries on June 10 to encourage them to invest in the respective countries.

Iran and Turkey have signed 10 accords of cooperation in a meeting both presidents attended. The agreements reportedly were intended to ‘deepen bilateral relations between Tehran and Ankara’ more than ever. Rouhani and Gül attended the joint meeting to sign the agreements. The agreements addressed cooperation in cultural and scientific exchange programs, tourism, cultural heritage, post, standard institutes, and two customs agreements.

Rouhani’s Meeting with PM Erdogan

Turkey will bolster its trade ties with neighbouring Iran by speeding up the implementation process of a preferential trade agreement signed in January. We had set a goal during my visit to Iran in January: to raise the trade between the two countries to $30 billion by 2015," Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a joint press conference with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on 9 June.

Erdogan said the trade between Turkey and Iran stood at $22 billion in 2012 before dipping to $14.5 billion in the following year due to economic sanctions imposed on Tehran. "As part of our endeavour to fix this, we have reaffirmed the necessity of forming a High Council of Strategic Cooperation and establishing a preferential trade zone between the two countries," he said. Trade volume between Turkey and Iran stood at $3.2 billion in the first quarter, according to Turkey's official statistics office.

For his part, Iranian President Rouhani said Erdogan and himself exchanged views on bilateral ties and regional developments. Calling on Turkish businessmen to invest in Iran's railways and ports, he said Iran and Turkey reached agreements to boost cooperation in energy, transportation, tourism and banking. Also discussed in the meeting were international and regional issues as well as cooperation between the two states in international organizations such as the U.N., Organization of the Islamic Cooperation and especially the D-8

Describing Turkey as one of the most important countries in the region, Rouhani said his administration’s foreign policy priority was to increase relations with neighbouring countries. Recalling his meeting with Erdogan in Tehran in January, Rouhani said important agreements on transportation, customs, tourism, culture, security and political relations would be signed during the talks. 

The two officials reiterated their objectives to increase the trade volume to $30 billion by the end of 2015. Erdogan said Turkey is planning to ratify the agreement of preferential trade with Iran until the end of this month so that they could reach their objective.

In Turkey visit, Rouhani heads a delegation of his cabinet members including ministers of foreign affairs, roads and city planning, oil, information technology, interior, intelligence, culture and Islamic guidance, and economic affairs.

Source:  Agencies

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