Turkey Awaiting Ahmadinejad’s Visit

A04828511.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will pay a two-day visit to Turkey this week for talks expected to focus on bilateral ties, a government official in Ankara said Tuesday.

The trip was planned well in advance of the conflict in Georgia, which – bordering as it does on Turkey and separated from Iran only by small landlocked Armenia – is a geopolitical concern for both nations.

Ahmadinejad, who arrives Thursday in Istanbul, will meet in the metropolis with President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said the official, who requested anonymity and gave no details.

Ankara has dismissed calls by the Zionist regime to cancel Ahmadinejad’s visit to Turkey. Israel last week voiced misgivings over the visit, saying it was “not the appropriate time” for Turkey to host the Iranian president who is the Muslim world’s forerunner in supporting the Palestinians against the Zionist regime of Israel.

Ankara has in recent years significantly improved relations with its eastern neighbor and is now making efforts to help resolve the nuclear standoff between Iran and the West.

Washington and its Western allies accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program, while they have never presented any corroborative document to substantiate their allegations. Iran denies the charges and insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

Tehran stresses that the country has always pursued a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.

Despite the rules enshrined in the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) entitling every member state, including Iran, to the right of uranium enrichment, Tehran is now under three rounds of UN Security Council sanctions for turning down West’s illegitimate calls to give up its right of uranium enrichment.

Tehran has dismisses West’s demands as politically tainted and illogical, stressing that sanctions and pressures merely consolidate Iranians’ national resolve to continue the path.

A NATO member and a candidate for EU membership, Turkey argues that its close dialogue both with the West and Tehran could be an asset for a peaceful solution of the international standoff over Iran’s nuclear program.

Ankara’s Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said last month that the six world powers trying to negotiate a deal with Iran over the nuclear issue has asked for Turkish help.

Even though Turkey has no formal mediation mission, it has undertaken a role of “consolidating and facilitating” the negotiations, he said.

Turkey has always voiced support for Iran’s right to possess nuclear power for peaceful purposes.

Turkey has stepped up cooperation with Iran against separatist Kurdish rebels active in both countries, and in 2001 began buying Iranian gas via a pipeline between the two countries, overriding US discontent.

Turkey’s interest in Georgia is heightened by another pipeline that carries crude oil from the Caspian Sea from Azerbaijan’s capital Baku via Tbilisi to Turkey’s Mediterranean port of Ceyhan.

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