turkey iran-1673971244723
Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu during their meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-abdollahian in Ankara, Turkey, January 17, 2023. Image Credit: REUTERS

ANKARA: Iran said on Tuesday it was “very pleased” by the start in December of the first direct talks between Ankara and Damascus since the outbreak of the Syria civil war over a decade ago.

Turkey’s relations with Syria ruptured after Ankara began backing rebel efforts to topple Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Assad a “terrorist” in 2017 and refused to recognise the Syrian leader’s rule.

But Damascus ally Russia managed to set up the first direct meeting between the Syrian and Turkish defence ministers since 2011 in Moscow in December.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian - whose government also strongly backs Assad - said Tehran fully supported the reconciliation efforts.

“We are very pleased by the fact that relations between Damascus and Ankara are undergoing change,” Amir-Abdollahian told reporters after talks in Ankara with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.

“We believe any positive development in relations between Ankara and Damascus will benefit our region and our countries,” the Iranian foreign minister said.

Cavusoglu said he intended to hold his first official meeting with the Syrian foreign minister “in the upcoming period”.

Cavusoglu had earlier suggested that he might meet his Syrian counterpart next month for talks aimed at setting up a historic summit between Assad and Erdogan.

“Today, we emphasised that Iran’s contribution to this process is very important,” Cavusoglu said.