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Iran and Turkey in 'closed door' Syria talks

Iran and Turkey stand on two opposing sides on the war in Syria [Getty]

Date of publication: 28 September, 2016

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Iran's foreign minister held a third set of talks with top Turkish officials in Ankara, as the two geopolitical rivals in the Syria conflict attempt to find common ground.

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visited Ankara for his third set of talks with top Turkish officials on Wednesday in less than two months, despite standing on opposite sides of the Syria conflict.

Zarif met with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu during an unscheduled trip to Ankara on his way back to Tehran from a visit to the UN in New York, a Turkish diplomatic source told AFP.

They discussed bilateral and regional issues, including the Syrian conflict, the source added.

Zarif was later due to meet with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, the premier's office said.

Iran and Turkey stand on two opposing sides of the conflict in neighbouring Syria.

Tehran is one of the few allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Ankara backs rebels fighting to overthrow him.

Turkey has launched an unprecedented operation inside Syria, dubbed Operation Euphrates Shield, with the aim of cleansing its frontier of Kurdish units and the Islamic State group.

Ankara is also pressing for a safe zone inside its war-torn neighbour to shelter refugees.

Despite the differences over Syria - and Ankara's increasingly close relationship with Tehran's arch-rival Saudi Arabia - the two countries have worked hard in the last months to preserve a strong relationship.

The visit comes amid a flurry of diplomatic contacts between Turkey and Iran since the summer in the wake of the 15 July failed coup.

Tehran was swift to voice support for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after the attempted coup, winning praise from Ankara for its rapid reaction.

Cavusoglu made a surprise visit to Tehran in mid-August, after Zarif held talks in the Turkish capital the same month.

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