World Bulletin / News Desk
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in a surprise move, met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the sidelines the 12th Summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) in Azerbaijan on Tuesday.
The meeting was closed to the press and no statement has yet been made regarding its content. According to reports, the two top officials met to discuss the situation in Syria.
Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Numan Kurtulmuş, deputy chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), were also present at the meeting, which lasted 40 minutes.
The political crisis in Syria has led to some tension between Turkey and Iran. Turkey has strongly criticized Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over a deadly crackdown on anti-regime protests while Iran has defended the Syrian regime and says foreign powers should stay out of Syria's internal affairs.
However, reports said during the meeting Ahmedinejad voiced support for Turkey over early October's Akçakale incident, saying Turkey has the right to protect its territorial integrity.
In the latest blow to the already strained ties between the two neighbors, Syria fired mortar shells into a residential district of the southeastern Turkish town of Akçakale two weeks ago, killing two women and three children from the same family and wounding at least eight people. In response, Turkey attacked targets inside Syria.
Also high on the agenda of the meeting were Iran's nuclear program and the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK) -- the Iranian wing of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been waging a separatist campaign against Turkey for the past three decades – according to the reports.
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"It is not possible for us to continue the peace process with those who threaten our national unity and brotherhood," said Erdogan, who told a news conference in Ankara ahead of his departure on an official visit to China.
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