Debut of new Iranian FM set to dominate Istanbul summit
The new Iranian foreign minister's first international appearance, coming amid renewed optimism about a solution to the country's controversial nuclear program, is likely to overshadow a regional meeting that began Wednesday in Turkey. The foreign ministers of Turkey and Iran held private talks on the nuclear issue for more than an hour in Istanbul's Ciragan Palace, where the three-day 11th Summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) is taking place. The meeting came following productive talks in Geneva on Tehran's nuclear program and ahead of the next round, expected to be held in Istanbul in late January. There is a general positive impression after the Geneva talks, and Turkey hopes a diplomatic solution will be agreed to after the Istanbul talks, diplomatic sources told journalists after a bilateral meeting between Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and his Iranian counterpart, acting Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi. Iran has long been at odds with world powers over its nuclear program, which it insists is solely for peaceful purposes. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is expected to arrive in Istanbul today for the summit. There has been no request by the Iranian side for Turkey to mediate in the upcoming talks, according to the diplomatic sources, who said Turkey would still do its best to contribute in any way to successful multilateral talks on Iran's nuclear program. The two foreign ministers also discussed Turkish-Iranian relations and regional issues, sources said. Speaking to the ECO Foreign Ministers Council, Davutoglu said, "We aim to contribute to the improvement of security, stability and welfare in both our close neighborhood and beyond." He added that Turkey is located in a sensitive region, one racked by armed conflicts and intractable disputes.