World Bulletin / News Desk
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had surprise talks with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday as the two neighbors find themselves increasingly at odds over the civil war in Syria.
The two leaders agreed that contacts among countries in the region should be intensified in order to end the bloodshed in Syria, the Anatolia news agency said of the meeting, which took place on the sidelines of a summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) in Baku.
The meeting comes on the heels of escalating border tensions between Turkey and Syria.
Turkey has shelled Syrian targets after a mortar fired from Syria killed five civilians in a border town early this month. In moves that raised fears of a war that could drag in other regional countries and NATO, Turkey also reinforced its military units along the border, sending artillery weapons and deploying more fighter jets to an air base close to the border, and Parliament passed a motion allowing Turkey to send, if need be, Turkish troops into Syria. Necdet Özel, Chief of General Staff, also warned Syria, in a statement on Wednesday that Turkey would retaliate in a more forceful way should shelling by the Syrian side keep landing inside Turkish territory. In addition, Turkey has reinforced its border.
Erdoğan defended Turkey's retaliatory measures in the wake of the attack in the town of Akçakale, and Ahmadinejad concurred. “Turkey is justified in its reaction,” Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying during the meeting by the private Cihan news agency. The Iranian leader also extended condolences for the deaths of the Turkish civilians.
Syria, which said an investigation was under way to track the source of the mortar bomb, has expressed regret for the deaths and extended condolences.
The exchange of fire on the border has raised concerns both in Turkey and elsewhere. The EU ministers gathering for a meeting on Monday and expressed concern over the spillover of the Syrian crisis to Turkey and called on all sides to prevent any escalation of conflict between Damascus and Ankara.
During their meeting, Erdoğan and Ahmadinejad exchanged views on the joint UN and Arab League special envoy on Syria Lakhdar Brahimi's talks on the Syrian issue.
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.
Iran also agreed that the Turkish Cypriots be given an observer status at ECO, a Turkish demand voiced by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu during a ministerial meeting on Monday.
Turkish dailies reported Wednesday on the operation in Istanbul and other cities against the police officers and officials in wiretapping probe and the latest clashes in Israel and Palestine.
Turkish carriers will not fly to Israel's Ben Gurion Airport in the next 24 hours.
Tuesday’s phone conversation was the second between the two officials within 24 hours and the third in five days.
Turkish Airlines has decided to suspend its Tel Aviv flights for a 24-hour period
The US again slammed Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent remarks in which he compared Israel’s military attacks on Gaza Strip to the acts of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
Muslims can no longer be unified under the rule of a single ruler like a caliph but could emulate political blocs like the European Union, Gormez said
Turkish president calls for urgent ceasefire as country starts three days of mourning for Gaza dead.
At least 76 officers were detained in 22 provinces around the country on suspicion of forming a criminal organisation and illegally bugging phones
Turkish dailies on Tuesday continued to give wide coverage to the Israeli offensive in Gaza, the upcoming Turkish presidential election and a Malaysian airliner which was downed over eastern Ukraine.
Turkey's government announced a three-day period of national mourning, starting on Tuesday, in a show of solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.
The attack on southeastern Sanliurfa city leaves twoTurkish soldiers on border duty dead and injured two others late on Monday.
A man died and another 65 people were injured in a gas truck explosion on Diyarbakir-Bingol highway.
Turkey's telecoms regulator has blocked access to 110 web sites over last five years for providing illegal online gambling.
'We strongly condemn this massacre, which has reached the cruelest level in collective punishment,' says Turkey's foreign ministry.
Erdogan said he will not act according to conventions. Rather, he will act according to the constitution.
Turkish dailies on Monday focused on Israel’s military operation in Gaza plus Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s remarks on the upcoming presidential elections.