Raisi meets Erdogan in Turkey for Gaza conflict, energy talks
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi met with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Wednesday to discuss the escalating Gaza conflict and energy cooperation between the two neighboring countries.
Raisi's visit, initially scheduled for November, had been postponed twice due to scheduling conflicts and recent attacks in Iran's southeastern city of Kerman.
Turkey's presidency announced on Tuesday, "Apart from bilateral ties, the meetings will address regional and global issues, particularly the Israeli attacks on Gaza and the occupied Palestinian territories." The leaders are also expected to oversee a Turkish-Iranian business council meeting, with potential agreements on the table. Alparslan Bayraktar, Turkey's Energy Minister, mentioned discussing energy cooperation with Iranian Oil Minister Javad Owji, particularly emphasizing the need for broader natural gas collaboration.
Turkey, advocating a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has condemned Israel's actions in Gaza, calling for an immediate ceasefire and supporting legal actions against Israel for genocide. Despite its stern stance, Ankara maintains commercial relations with Israel, which has drawn criticism domestically and from Iran.
Turkey, a NATO member, does not categorize the Palestinian militant group Hamas as a terrorist organization. This stance contrasts with its Western allies and some Arab nations. Hamas's attack on Israel on Oct. 7 triggered the recent retaliatory actions in Gaza.
Iran, leading what it calls the Axis of Resistance, supports Hamas along with other armed Shi'ite groups in the region opposing Israel and its Western allies. The U.S. and Britain recently targeted Iran-backed Houthi forces in Yemen following attacks on Red Sea shipping, leading Erdogan to criticize these strikes as a disproportionate use of force.
Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said last week that he had engaged in talks with his Iranian and Pakistani counterparts following cross-border fire between the neighboring countries, urging for de-escalation.
Turkey and Iran, while historically having complex relations, especially over the Syrian civil war, have recently shown efforts to improve ties. Ankara supports rebels against President Bashar al-Assad and has conducted multiple incursions into northern Syria, whereas Tehran backs Assad's government. Turkey is now taking steps to mend relations with Damascus.