Iranian deputy minister in Ankara for Syria, PKK talks

Iranian deputy minister in Ankara for Syria, PKK talks

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Seyyed Abbas Araqchi was in Ankara on May 23 for a meeting with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, with the Syrian crisis and withdrawal of members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) at the top of the agenda.

Araqchi’s visit to the Turkish capital comes at a time when the international diplomacy on Syria has gained more momentum in the run-up to the Geneva II Conference which will be hosted by Russia and the U.S.

Only days before his meeting with Davutoğlu, Araqchi voiced on May 21 his country’s willingness to attend the conference if the co-hosts invited Iran. 

“If the Geneva II Conference is held and if Iran is invited, we will study our presence with a positive view,” Araqchi was quoted as saying by the Iranian news agencies at a regular press conference in Tehran.

Turkish leaders have so far bluntly criticized Iran’s approach as Tehran has been lending support to the Syrian regime and its forces.

On one occasion earlier this month, Davutoğlu said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would not give up its bloody methods as long as Iran continued its support, which he said was the biggest support that al-Assad has been receiving. 

Also this week, Araqchi was straightforward about expressing Tehran’s uneasiness with the state of affairs surrounding the withdrawal of the PKK militants from Turkish soil, as part of a peace process aimed at ending the three-decade conflict between Turkey’s security forces and the PKK.
The withdrawal from Turkey into northern Iraq should have been approved by Tehran and Baghdad beforehand, Araqchi said.

“When some developments are to take place at borders and forces are to be moved, definitely they need to happen with the consent of the central governments [of Iran and Iraq],” Araqchi was quoted as saying.

Leading analysts have recently suggested that Iran’s main concern about the PKK withdrawal has been whether the militants would be joining forces with the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), PKK’s offshoot fighting against Iran.