Iranian FM Zarif set to visit Turkey for regional talks

Iranian FM Zarif set to visit Turkey for regional talks

ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News
Iranian FM Zarif set to visit Turkey for regional talks

This file photo shows Iranian FM Javad Zarif with Turkish FM Ahmet Davutoğlu during a visit to Istanbul. DAILY NEWS photo

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif will pay a visit to Turkey on Jan. 4 for discussions on Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. The minister’s visit comes as a graft probe is shaking up Turkish politics, including the sale of Iranian oil and gas to Turkey in return for gold to bypass international sanctions on Tehran.

The upcoming Geneva II meeting on the Syrian crisis is expected to be on the top of the agenda of the Iranian minister’s talks in Turkey. After months of delays, Jan. 22 was set for the talks, but doubts remain about whether the conference will take place. The opposition National Coalition has yet to categorically say it will attend the meeting and insists President Bashar al-Assad cannot be part of any transition in Syria.

Whether Iran will attend the talks is another question that has not been answered yet, because the opposition is opposed to it.

The war in Syria has spilled into Lebanon. A double suicide attack on the Iranian embassy in Beirut last November killed at least 23 people. The Abdullah Azzam Brigades, which operates throughout the Middle East and has links to al-Qaeda, has threatened to perform more attacks in Lebanon unless Iran pulls its forces out of Syria. Iraq’s al-Qaeda branch has also capitalized on the soaring sectarian tensions and on the civil war in the neighboring Syria to rebuild itself.

A recent graft probe in Turkey is also expected to be discussed in the Iranian minister’s talks. Iranian businessman Babak Zanjani, allegedly a partner of an Azeri businessman and gold dealer, Reza Zarrab who has been accused of bribing ministers to cover up a deal, was arrested in Iran last week over the corruption scandal in Turkey.