Iran FM to meet Afghan, Turkish counterparts in Turkey
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrived on Thursday in the Turkish city of Antalya and will meet the Afghan and Turkish counterparts, a spokesman for his ministry has said.
Zarif will also speak at the Antalya Diplomatic Forum which opens on Friday, upon the invitation of Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will also speak at the event.
Zarif has said that Iran supports a United Nations-mediated Afghanistan peace process, but has warned against “external imposition."
Ankara proposed Turkish protection for Kabul airport after foreign troops leave Afghanistan later this year, but the Taliban told Reuters that it is against the plan, because Turkey is a member of NATO.
The South Caucasus, which includes Armenia and Azerbaijan, will be among the topics discussed at the forum in Antalya.
Iran has played an intermediary role in the South Caucasus but looks to have taken sides in the past year – quietly backing Armenia during the Nagorno-Karabakh war, then pledging support for reconstruction efforts in Azerbaijan-held territory. On Thursday, Tehran said it would help develop parts of Nagorno-Karabakh now under Azerbaijani rule.
Turkey and Azerbaijan are close allies.
On Tuesday, Erdogan and his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev signed an agreement to strengthen relations in Shusha, a symbolic town recaptured by Azerbaijani forces during the Nagorno-Karabakh war with Turkish assistance.
Iran’s elections will take place on Friday. Zarif’s position in Iranian politics beyond that is uncertain after audio leaked of him criticising the late Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian general killed in a US drone strike in January 2020. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei called the comments a "big mistake."