Turkey strengthens ties with Iran during strains in relations with U.S.


Week of June 24, 2003

Turkey and Iran have agreed to high-level military cooperation talks.

Turkish officials said the talks would include such issues as border security, joint patrols and intelligence exchange in an effort to halt insurgency groups. The officials said the focus of the efforts is to stop Kurdish insurgents from using Iran as a launching pad for attacks on Turkey.

Iran is expected to send a high-level military delegation to Ankara in June. Officials did not specify who would arrive from Teheran, but said they would include leading military commanders.

Turkey has improved relations with its neighbors amid increasing tension with the United States. Last year, Ankara signed a military and security cooperation agreement with Syria that calls for joint military exercise and the exchange of expertise.

Last month, Iran and Turkey completed a project to renovate a border check post in a sign of improving relations. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan and Iranian Vice President Mohammed Reza Aref attended the ceremony at Gurbulak.

"Gurbulak and Bazargan border gate will be the open door for peace, trade and our common interests," Erdogan said.