Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Tehran Thursday, where he praised the long-standing cooperation between the two countries and their response "to the arrogance of the Western countries."
The meeting focused on bilateral ties and trade between Ankara and Tehran, including in the field of energy and crude oil, where Iran is facing serious sanctions from Western countries, official Iranian news agency IRNA reported.
Erdogan's visit comes as Iran appears to be headed back to negotiations with the West over its nuclear program, which it says is peaceful despite Western suspicions that it is an attempt to develop nuclear weapons. On Wednesday, Iran and Turkey announced that the next round of talks with the P5+1 group was set for April 13. No venue has been finalized although Turkey has offered to host the talks.
Erdogan reiterated his stance that Iran has a right to a peaceful nuclear energy program at the meeting with Ahmadinejad. "The government and people of Turkey have, in a transparent manner, always supported [Iran's] nuclear energy stances and will seriously pursue the same policy in the future," the Iranian news agency quoted Erdogan as saying.
Erdogan held talks about Iran with US President Barack Obama on Sunday in South Korea, raising speculation Turkey was taking a message from Washington to Tehran - although a Turkish official dismissed that.
"There is no new message on the nuclear issue," the Turkish official said. "Turkey is not the messenger. That is just speculation. Our message is what we have said many times before."
Reuters contributed to this report.