Davutoglu talks regional issues with Iran's Zarif in D-8 meeting

Photo: Davutoglu talks regional issues with Iran's Zarif in D-8 meeting
 / Turkey

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu came together with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, on the sidelines of the 16th Ministerial Council of the Developing Eight Countries (D-8) meeting in Pakistan on Wednesday Today`s Zaman reported.

Davutoglu and Zarif had a tête-à-tête at the Pakistani Foreign Ministry after the D-8 meeting. According to information obtained from diplomatic sources, Davutoglu and Zarif exchanged views on topics agreed upon between Turkey and Iran during the Turkish foreign minister's recent visit to Tehran.

Davutoglu's visit to Tehran came after Zarif's one-day trip to Turkey in early November to attend the 60th Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs and possibly to prepare the groundwork for Iranian President Hassan Rohani's upcoming visit.

The diplomatic sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, added that in order to further strengthen bilateral ties and increase the cooperation on regional issues, high-level bilateral visits between Tehran and Ankara are expected to take place in January.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is anticipated to visit Iran in the coming days while Rohani is scheduled to visit Turkey in January.

The dates for the visits were discussed during the talks between the two foreign ministers, the sources said.

Zarif, who was scheduled to visit Turkey on Tuesday on the occasion of Şeb-i Arus (Night of Reunion), canceled his visit due to his tight schedule, sources told Today's Zaman.

It was reported days ago that Zarif would attend a ceremony planned for Şeb-i Arus, which commemorates the anniversary of the death of Sufi mystic and Islamic scholar Mevlana Jelaluddin Muhammad Rumi, in Konya. However, a senior Turkish diplomat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, noted that Zarif informed the Turkish side that he could not attend due to his busy schedule.

The sources also added that Zarif has expressed his sadness over the cancelation of his visit to Konya and that Davutoglu, in reply, said the door of Konya is always open for Zarif.

Davutoglu and Zarif's meeting came amid a major corruption operation in Turkey that also involves a public bank, Halkbank, one of the three main targets of the ongoing corruption and bribery dragnet, for its role in trade between Turkey and Iran.

Halkbank has long been active in trade between the two neighboring countries, and this was no secret. The government has been grilled for violating sanctions against Iran, which was under a strict embargo by the United Nations for its nuclear program, by assigning Halkbank to handle payments for energy imports from the country.

Turkey was paying Turkish liras instead of dollars for energy purchases, and Iran was depositing this money into Turkish banks and then using it to buy gold from Turkey. Halkbank was reportedly the platform for conducting these transactions.

Davutoglu says D-8 inspiration for int'l organizations

Meanwhile, speaking at the council meeting, Davutoglu noted that the D-8 is an inspiration for international platforms such as the G-20, MIKTA (Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey and Australia) and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), which were established to overcome economic crises in the world.

The ministerial council is a decision-making body of the D-8 and meets every year. The D-8, which was established in 1996 on Turkey's initiative, comprises Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Malaysia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh and Indonesia. The D-8 is aimed at developing cooperation among the member states.

"In 1997, while the D-8 was being established, the structure of the organization was debated due to the geographical distance between the member states. In this sense, some criticized the organization, saying it would be unsuccessful as the member states have no common ground. However, one should remember that the economic crisis that emerged after the establishment of the D-8 led to the creation of the G-20, MIKTA and BRICS. In this context, the D-8 became an aspiration for these organizations," Davutoglu said.

Emphasizing that the D-8 is an economic organization that represents a population of approximately 1 billion and a gross domestic product (GDP) of $4 trillion, Davutoglu said the total direct investment in these countries was about $685 billion by the end of 2012.

"The trade volume of the member states was around $434 billion when it was established, but now this number has reached $2 trillion," Davutoglu said.

The two-day session of the D-8 commission held on Tuesday and Wednesday finalized different proposals vis-à-vis the implementation of various agreements between the member states. The recommendations finalized by the commission have been scheduled to be presented at Thursday's meeting.

According to reports, Davutoglu has also invited the leaders of the member states to hold the 9th Government Heads Summit and next years' D-8 Foreign Ministerial Meeting in Konya, a city in Central Anatolia.

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