Iran’s Armed Forces Chief of Staff, Major General Mohammad Bagheri held talks with his host and Turkish counterpart, General Hulusi Akar, in Ankara on Tuesday, August 15.
Bagheri’s official visit is taking place at a time when Turkey has started building of a 90-mile, 6ft wide and 9ft high wall along its border with Iran, following the construction of a similar barrier already standing on the border with Syria.
The wall is part of moves to bolster the country's security, Ankara asserts.
During his three days visit, Bagheri is also expected to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli.
The Syrian crisis, fight against terrorism, regional developments, bilateral relations in the defense field, and border cooperation are among the topics that would be raised in the meetings, local news media in Turkey and Iran reported.
“Iran-Turkey relations, during past five or six years, particularly during the developments labelled as Arab Spring, has been somewhat strained,” Germany based Middle East affairs analyst, Habib Hossaini Fard told Radio Frada.
“The two countries were confronting each other over the Syrian crisis,” Hossaini Fard notes, adding, “One should remember that General Bagheri’s predecessor, General Hassan Firoozabadi accused Turkey of being the main factor responsible for the bloodshed in Syria”.
General Firoozabadi’s comments immediately turned into a bitter war of words between Tehran and Ankara.
However, “some developments have helped to reduce the tension between the two in recent months,” Hossaini Fard insists, noting, “Iran’s opposition to 15 July 2016 military coup d’etat in Turkey deeply appeased President Erdogan and his allies.”
In regional network of alliances, Turkey strongly backs Qatar in its dispute with Gulf Arab states and Iran also has good relations with the small oil-rich country.
Furthermore, General Bagheri, before leaving Tehran, joined Turkey in condemning Iraqi Kurds plan for holding a referendum on independence in northern Iraq.
“Creating an independent political entity in the region will lead to new problems and challenges absolutely unacceptable to Iraq’s neighbors”, Bagheri maintained.
“We enjoy hundred years of friendship and brotherhood with Turkey and we have a safe and peaceful border," Maj. Gen. Bagheri said underlining that Turkey is one of Iran’s important neighbors and plays an important role in the region and the Islamic world, Tasnim, a news agency close to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, IRGC, reported.
Bagheri, an IRGC commander, added that for a long time such visits had not happened between the two countries, but given the regional developments and issues related to border security and confronting terrorism, the visit became necessary.
It is the first visit by an Iranian chief of staff to Turkey, since the 1979 revolution in Iran.
Deputy Foreign Minister for Asia and Oceania Affairs Ebrahim Rahimpour, chief of IRGC's Ground Forces Mohammad Khakpour, Deputy Chief of Iranian Armed Forces Brigadier General Gholam Reza Mehrabi, Deputy Minister of Defense for Education and Research of the Armed Forces Mohammed Hassan Bagheri, and several other high-ranking officials accompany General Bagheri in the visit to Turkey.