Turkish military chief meets Iranian counterpart

ANKARA

The head of Iran's military met his Turkish counterpart Gen. Hulusi Akar on Tuesday in a rare meeting between two such senior military figures, a military official said.

Maj. Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, chairman of the Iranian Armed Forces General Staff, was invited to a private meeting at the General Staff headquarters in Ankara, the official said on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media.

According to Iran's Islamic Republic News Agency, Bagheri was invited to Turkey for a three-day visit by Akar.

In an article published before the meeting, it said they were due to discuss issues such as counter-terrorism, regional developments, defense ties and border security.

The official gave no confirmation of the subject of their discussions.

The neighbors, who share a 534-kilometer (332-mile) border, share interests in a number of areas.

Earlier this month, Turkey said it had begun building a security wall along its mountainous eastern border with Iran. Tehran welcomed the development.

The border is thought to be a route for people-smugglers bringing mostly Iranian and Afghan refugees into Turkey, as well as providing terrorists with the opportunity to carry out raids before slipping back across the frontier.

The PKK has waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years, leading to more than 40,000 deaths while in Iran, the PKK-affiliated PJAK group sporadically carries out hit-and-run attacks.

Turkey and Iran, along with Russia, are the brokers for the Astana peace talks on Syria. At the latest round of talks in May, the three countries announced plans to establish de-escalation zones throughout the war-ravaged state.

As neighbors of Iraq, both Ankara and Tehran share an interest in the Kurdish Regional Government's plan to hold an independence referendum next month.

Source: Anadolu Agency