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.
A crackdown on those linked to Erdogan has seen the arrest of 28 people in a number of cities across the country
The Turkish military has bombed positions of PKK terrorist group in Iraq's Hakurk region and Turkey's southeastern provinces
Turkish president and the leader of Palestinian group talk about resolving disagreements between Palestinians
“European countries remain incapable of solving ongoing problems. That's why Turkey should be a member of the union,” Turkey's EU minister says
PKK terrorists have attacked Turkish troops in southeastern Hakkari and Mardin provinces
The 16th Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals in Ankara has ruled that the proceedings against former President, Military Officer Kenan Evren and Tahsin Sahinkaya, a Turkish Air Force Commander, were to be dropped due to the defendants' death and that their defence, while alive, was invalid.
Pascale Moreau says UN 'appreciates' Ankara's work with refugees but calls for political solutions to the crisis
Turkey may ask the public whether it should continue its EU bid if accession talks do not move forward, says foreign minister.
Four suspects, including a mayor, in southeastern Turkey face life imprisonment for reportedly allowing PKK extremists use state-owned machines in attacks.
Turkish Foreign Ministry describes reports of phosphorus bombs and incendiary cluster munitions as 'extremely worrying'
PKK extremist have been killed following an exchange of fire with Turkish gendarme forces in Elazig province
Turkey is blocking plans by a senior German delegation to visit the Incirlik air base, German officials have said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that the EU bid could be determined by a UK-style referendum vote
Zionist MP Ksenia Svetlova will visit Turkey to participate in a joint Israeli-Turkish think tank on Friday.
Rockets, believed to be fired by PKK terror group, target local police department; no casualties reported
Turkish leader reacts after European Commission president declares Erdogan responsible in case visa deal fails