Tehran and Ankara have voiced opposition to the US sanctions against Iran as well as Washington’s terror blacklisting of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps while reaffirming the need to bolster bilateral ties.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday met with Iranís Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is in Ankara on a one-day official visit to discuss bilateral ties and regional developments.
During the meeting, the two sides said that Ankara and Tehran needed to promote cooperation, including in the economic sector, in line with their agreements in the face of the US sanctions.
They also exchanged views on the ongoing developments in Syria, Yemen and North Africa.
The Turkish leader also voiced his sympathy with Iran over the recent flooding in the country, the worst in decades in 25 of 31 provinces.
Zarid also hailed the recent successful local elections in Turkey.
Earlier in the day, Zarif also held talks and later attended a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, during which Turkeyís top diplomat said his country has told and will continue to tell the United States that the sanctions against Iran are “wrong.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) holds a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, in Ankara, Turkey, on April 17, 2018. (Photo by Anadolu news agency)
“Our ministers expressed Turkey’s concerns to US counterparts in a recent meeting,” Cavusoglu said, referring to Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak and Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan, who visited Washington and met with top US officials, including President Donald Trump, on Monday.
The Trump administration has taken a hostile approach toward Iran. That approach intensified last year when Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and imposed sanctions against the country.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) shakes hands with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, in Ankara, Turkey, April 17, 2018. (Photo by Anadolu agency)
The White House has also warned its European allies in the JCPOA against seeking to circumvent anti-Iran sanctions.
Elsewhere in his remarks during the press conference, Cavusoglu said Turkey and neighboring Iran needed to keep working to raise their bilateral trade to a target of $30 billion.
He also said his country is looking into establishing new trade mechanisms with Iran, like the INSTEX system introduced by European countries, to avoid US sanctions, but he did not provide further details.
“Along with the existing mechanisms, we evaluated how we can establish new mechanisms, like INSTEX ...how we can remove the obstacles before us and before trade,” Cavusoglu told the news conference. “What is important here is the solidarity and determination between us,” he added.
The Europeans introduced INSTEX as a non-dollar direct payment channel to keep the JCPOA alive following Washington’s withdrawal from the nuclear accord.
In late January, Iran’s European partners in the JCPOA -- the UK, France and Germany-- unveiled INSTEX with the aim of protecting their companies against US sanctions and enabling them to continue trade with Iran.
Iran has complained about a delay by the European partners to make INSTEX operational, saying they have "no excuse" for further postponement of the project.
Zarif said on Sunday that the Europeans had introduced INSTEX as "a preliminary measure" as part of their multiple commitments under the JCPOA following Washington’s withdrawal from the nuclear accord, adding that in order to begin honoring their commitments, the Europeans were required to set up INSTEX.
An Iranian structure parallel to INSTEX, called the Special Trade and Finance Institute (STFI), was launched just last week, Zarif said, noting that the European signatories have no longer any excuse to delay the start of their job.
During the Wednesday press conference, Zarif, for his part, pointed to US’ acts of obstructionism to hinder Iran’s trade with other countries and said,” We will not allow Americans to question our trade with other countries.”
The top Iranian diplomat said the unilateral US sanctions are in contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 22331, which endorses the JCPOA, noting,” We believe the US cannot bring relations among other countries under its control.”
He said there were numerous ways for Iran, including INSTEX, to continue cooperation with other countries as the world was against Washington’s sanctions.
“The US illegally imposes its policies on the world. US measures violate Security Council Resolution  and they should definitely be countered or it (the world) should wait for the Americans to interfere in all economic relations for the sake of their own interests,” he said.
On Syria, Zarif said that Iran along with Turkey and Russia would work to contribute to the restoration of peace and stability in Syria.
“We along with our friends in Turkey and Russia will maintain efforts to promote peace and stability in Syria. These efforts will continue with the formation of the [Syrian] Constitutional Committee and support of the peace process,” he said.
He said that he had held extensive talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during his visit to Damascus before he arrived in Turkey and said he would brief Erdogan on the negotiations.
He said that Kazakhstan is to host a fresh round of negotiations on Syria in its capital, recently renamed from Astana to Nur-Sultan.