Iran’s Top Officer Meets Turkish President Erdogan in Ankara

Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad-Hossein Baqeri has held talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his visit to Turkey, the first-ever foreign trip of such Iranian official.

Baqeri told reports on Wednesday that bilateral defense ties, regional developments and battling terrorism were the key issues discussed during his meeting with Erdogan.

“On military issues, both sides agreed to have mutual cooperation on education and student exchanges as well as holding joint training courses,” Baqeri noted.

He added that it was agreed that both countries would increase information exchange in the field of counter-terrorism.

Baqeri noted that Erdogan would be traveling to Iran in the near future, and that a joint strategic commission would be held between the two countries with the presence of high-ranking officials with the goal of devolving bilateral economic, political, cultural and military ties.

The top Iranian commander also noted that during the meeting, it was agreed that holding an independence referendum by Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region would only increase tensions in Iraq and its neighboring countries.

In June, the leader of Iraq’s semi-autonomous region Kurdistan region, Massoud Barzani, announced in a Twitter message that the northern territory would hold an independencereferendum in September not only in the three provinces that make up the Kurdish region but in the areas that are disputed by the Kurdish and the central Iraqi governments.

Following the announcement, the Iraqi government issued a statement saying that it would reject any unilateral move by the regional Kurdish authorities to push for independence.

On Tuesday, Baqeri met with his Turkish counterpart General Hulusi Akar and discussed ways to improve the two countries’ security, particularly in border areas, and continue the fight against terrorism.

Baqeri arrived in Ankara on Tuesday for a three-day visit at the head of a high-ranking politico-military delegation. He said his trip was aimed at discussing enhanced cooperation on military and regional issues.

It is the first visit by an Iranian chief of staff of the Armed Forces to Turkey.

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