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Erdogan says Turkey and Iran must cooperate to fight terrorism, sectarianism

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan (R) shakes hands with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani during a welcoming ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Ankara

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday his country and neighbouring Iran must work together to help tackle the terrorism and sectarianism shaking their region.

Ankara and Tehran are deeply divided in their views over Syria’s war, but they are looking to boost trade ties after international sanctions on Iran were lifted in January.

In a joint news conference with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Ankara, Erdogan said it was in both countries’ interest to reduce to a minimum the differences of opinion between them.

“We have to work together to overcome the problems of terrorism and sectarianism and the related humanitarian crises that are shaking our region,” Erdogan said.

Iran has been a strong strategic ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since the start of the uprising against him, while Turkey has been one of his fiercest critics, supporting his opponents and giving refuge to rebel fighters.

Turkey imports large amounts of natural gas from Iran and the two countries are looking to boost banking and trade ties, with the goal of tripling bilateral trade to $30 billion annually in the coming years.

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