Turkish prime minister leaves for Iran

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan left for Teheran on Saturday, where he said he would meet Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to discuss how the two countries can help stabilize in the Middle East. Erdogan said discussions would touch on the situations in Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. He did not say whether he would bring up Iran's nuclear program, and denied suggestions that he would be passing along a message from Washington. "This visit is being made at a time when tensions and clashes are increasing and negatively affecting peace and stability in the region," Erdogan said in a statement before leaving. "Of course this situation makes meetings between the region's two important members, Turkey and Iran, a necessity." US officials believe Iran's nuclear program is intended to produce a nuclear bomb, which Iran denies. Turkey has repeatedly called on Iran to be more transparent and to allay Western concerns by cooperating more fully with international inspectors.