Turkey irked by Iranian general's words, but will help release hostages: FM
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
A suggestion by Iran’s top general that Turkey is next in line for violence after Syria are “unacceptable," the Turkish Foreign Minister said today, but added that Ankara would nevertheless agitate for the release of Iranian nationals being held hostage in Syria.
Iranian Chief of Staff Hasan Firuzabadi’s statement came on the eve of a snap visit to Ankara by Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi. The two countries' foreign ministers held talks today regarding the situation in Syria and the 48 Iranian pilgrims being held hostage by Syrian rebels in Damascus.
"I told [Salehi] that Iranian officials should seriously consider their words before issuing statements," Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said in statements to the press following the talks, adding that such statements hurt Iran's international and diplomatic relations.
Iran and Turkey differ on their approach to the incidents in Syria, but the party responsible for this difference of opinion was "no one else" but the Syrian regime, which has used heavy weapons against its own people, Davutoğlu said.
But Davutoğlu also said Turkey "would make any sacrifice" necessary to free the 48 Iranian hostages, three of whom have already reportedly been killed by Syrian army shelling, according to the militants holding them. "Turkey's stance on this issue is a matter of principle. We will try to help and provide assistance to any humanitarian issue no matter where in the world.”
Turkey could play a "major role" in freeing the 48 because of its links with the Syrian opposition, Iran's foreign minister said yesterday.
After the press meeting, Davutoğlu departed for Myanmar, where he will try to raise awareness about the recent massacre of Rohingya, or Arakan Muslims, in the west of the country.