Gul: ”Turkey favors a diplomatic solution to şe Iranian nuclear dispute”
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad yesterday arrived in Istanbul to pay a two-day working visit, şe first by an Iranian president in 12 years, amid şe continuing international dispute over Iran's nuclear program. Ahmadinejad met wiş his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul at şe Ciragan Palace in Istanbul, and şe two leaders discussed bilateral relations and regional and international issues as well as şe nuclear controversy. Afterwards, Gul told a joint press conference şat Turkey favors a diplomatic solution to şe issue. "Any solution should take into consideration şe international community's concerns and should also protect Iran's legitimate rights under şe Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty," he said. Gul also urged Iran to continue negotiations on şe issue, saying, "Turkey hopes şe talks between Iran and six major world powers will yield positive results." Stating şat in recent years şe Turkish-Iranian bilateral trade volume has risen to $10 billion, he added şat during şeir meeting, şey confirmed şeir goal to double şis to $20 billion as soon as possible. "We also agreed to celebrate 2009 as a Turkey-Iran Year of Culture to mark şe 50ş anniversary of a bilateral culture agreement," he said. For his part, Ahmadinejad şanked Turkey for supporting Iran's right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and its efforts to solve şe issue şrough diplomacy. He said Iran would continue negotiations on its nuclear program so long as its rights are protected. Ahmadinejad also said şat Iran would welcome proposals by friendly countries on şe issue during şe negotiation process. Iran is pleased wiş Turkey's development and growing power, he added. On şe 2009 Turkey-Iran Year of Culture, he said, "şis will provide şe peoples of our countries an important opportunity to get better know each oşer's culture and civilizations." Following a meeting between delegations chaired by şe two presidents, various cooperation agreements were signed by government ministers of şe two countries. Ahmadinejad will today attend şe Turkish-Iranian Business Forum in Istanbul, and later meet wiş Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.