Iran General NewsIran's Salehi to visit Turkey over abducted pilgrims

Iran’s Salehi to visit Turkey over abducted pilgrims


AFP: Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi will pay a snap visit to Turkey late Tuesday for talks on the Syrian crisis and 48 Iranians kidnapped in Syria, officials and the media said.
ANKARA (AFP)— Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi will pay a snap visit to Turkey late Tuesday for talks on the Syrian crisis and 48 Iranians kidnapped in Syria, officials and the media said.

The Iranian foreign minister wanted to visit Turkey “at his own request,” which was conveyed through diplomatic channels late Monday, a Turkish diplomat told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Salehi will have talks with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu in Ankara, with the Syria conflict topping the agenda, he added.

“Considering that the Free Syrian Army — which claims to have abducted the Iranian pilgrims — is backed by Turkey, the visit by the foreign minister aims to warn and remind the Ankara government of its responsbilities in this matter,” the Iranian foreign ministry said as cited by the official news agency IRNA.

The Iranians were kidnapped on Saturday by unidentified “armed terrorist groups” as they were travelling in a bus to the airport in Damascus, according to the Iranian embassy in the Syrian capital and the Syrian state news agency SANA.

It was the single biggest abduction of Iranians since the start of the Syrian uprising in March last year.

Salehi telephoned his Turkish and Qatari counterparts, Davutoglu and Hamad bin Jasim bin Jabir Al Thani, late Saturday to request their assistance.

And Davutoglu responded by promising “to study the issue and to carry out efforts as in previous cases,” the Iranian media reported.

Turkey and Iran are at the opposite ends of the Syrian crisis. Ankara has been at the forefront of the international criticism against the Damascus regime’s deadly response to the popular uprising, while Tehran is one of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s few allies.

In addition to taking in more than 45,000 Syrian refugees in several camps along its southern border provinces, Turkey is also providing sanctuary to members of the rebel forces made up of army defectors.

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