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Iran on Tuesday hailed the resumption of the first direct ministerial talks between arch-rivals Ankara and Damascus since the outbreak of the Syria civil war more than a decade ago.
But Damascus ally Russia managed to arrange the first direct meeting between the Syrian and Turkish defence ministers since 2011 in Moscow in December.
More meetings are tentatively being planned for the coming weeks aimed at paving the way for a landmark peace summit between Erdogan and Assad.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian — whose government also strongly backs Assad — said Tehran fully supported the reconciliation efforts.
“We are very pleased by the fact that relations between Damascus and Ankara are undergoing change,” Amir-Abdollahian told reporters after talks in Ankara with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.
“We believe any positive development in relations between Ankara and Damascus will benefit our region and our countries,” the Iranian foreign minister said.
Amir-Abdollahian flew into Ankara fresh from a visit to Damascus for talks with Syrian counterpart Faisal Mekdad on Saturday.
Interesting? Amir-Abdollahian in Ankara right after a visit to Damascus.
Cavusoglu said he intended to hold his first official meeting with Mekdad “in the upcoming period”.
“Today, we emphasised that Iran’s contribution to this process is very important,” Cavusoglu said.
Washington’s relations with Ankara are already strained by US support for Kurdish forces in northern Syria that Erdogan views as “terrorists”.
Some analysts believe that Russia is hoping Damascus and Ankara can unite in their shared desire to push the US forces out of Syria.
The US State Department said this month that it did not “support countries upgrading their relations or expressing support to rehabilitate the brutal dictator Bashar al-Assad”.