Iran's Foreign Minister praises thawing of ties between Syria and Turkey

Tehran is a key backer of the Assad regime, while Ankara has supported rebel groups in Syria's civil war

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Iran's Foreign Minister has praised the apparent thawing of ties between Turkey and Syria, neighbouring countries that have been on opposing sides of Syria's civil war.

“We are happy with the dialogue taking place between Syria and Turkey, and we believe that it will reflect positively between the two countries,” said Hossein Amirabdollahian, during a visit to the Lebanese capital Beirut, on Friday.

Iran is a key backer of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, while Turkey has supported rebel groups in the north-west of the country and deployed soldiers there since the war began in 2011.

But last month, the Turkish and Syrian defence ministers held talks in Moscow to discuss border security and other issues.

The countries' foreign ministers may also meet next month, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has recently suggested he could meet Mr Al Assad to push for peace.

The Syrian President has said any talks should aim “the end of occupation” by Turkey of parts of Syria.

In Beirut, Mr Amirabdollahian also spoke about Iran-Saudi Arabia relations, saying he hoped “we reach [an agreement on] reopening diplomatic missions and embassies in Riyadh and Tehran”.

Relations between the two countries had been tense for decades, but worsened considerably after the 2016 execution of Shiite cleric Nimr Al Nimr by Riyadh.

That set off protests in both countries — in Tehran, protesters set fire to the Saudi embassy.

Direct talks brokered by Iraq were launched in April 2021, in a push to thaw relations.

Last month, Mr Amirabdollahian spoke with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on the sidelines of the Middle East summit in Jordan.

On Friday, Mr Amirabdollahian said the December meeting had resulted in “an agreement in our points of view to continue with the Saudi-Iran dialogue in what would eventually normalise relations between the two countries”.

Mr Amirabdollahian also said in Beirut that ties were strong between Iran and Lebanon.

“Iran will always and forever remain a loyal friend of Lebanon in good times and bad,” he said, appearing alongside Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdullah Bou Habib.

Mr Bou Habib said Mr Amirabdollahian had stressed Iran's desire to end Lebanon's presidential vacuum.

Parliament has yet to agree on the successor to Michel Aoun, who left the Baabda Palace at the end of October.

Updated: January 13, 2023, 12:26 PM
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