Iran top diplomat to visit Turkey after coup: Ankara

It is the most significant visit by a foreign official to the country since last month’s failed coup

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Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will hold talks in Turkey on Friday, the Turkish foreign ministry announced, in the most significant visit by a foreign official to the country since last month’s failed coup.

Zarif will meet his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara and will be received by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at his palace, the ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

The visit by a key regional player in the Middle East will please Ankara, which has hit out at the lack of Western leaders coming to Turkey since a rogue military faction tried to oust Erdogan from power on July 15.

The announcement of the visit comes two days after a key encounter between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Erdogan, who met face-to-face for the first time since relations were damaged after Turkey shot down a Russian jet over Syria in November 2015.

Tehran and Moscow are Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s main allies in the over five-year civil war, putting them at loggerheads with Turkey.

While Tehran has given financial and military support to Assad, Turkey has repeatedly said his exit is the only way to find peace in Syria.

The presidency insisted on Wednesday Turkey’s policy on Syria had not changed despite the normalization of relations with Moscow.
But, despite tensions over Syria, Iran and Russia were among the first countries to give their unequivocal support to Erdogan on the night of the coup.

Relations between mainly Sunni Muslim Turkey and Saudi Arabia -- the key Sunni Muslim power in the Middle East and Shiite Iran’s regional foe -- have blossomed in recent months.

However, Ankara has also maintained a careful balance to also keep warm relations with Tehran.

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