Turkey and Iran play down patriot tension
Turkish and Iranian officials downplayed recent tension between their countries yesterday, underlining a need to focus on the big picture and improving regional cooperation rather than conjectural problems. The meeting between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Deputy Chair Omer Celik and Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ramin Mehmanparast at the AKP's headquarters was the first high-level meeting between the neighboring countries' officials following the tension stemming from NATO's planned deployment of Patriot missiles in Turkey. The officials discussed a wide range of regional issues, including the deployment of Patriot missiles as well as bilateral issues, Celik told reporters following the meeting. "We are always saying this: there may be some conjectural problems between Turkey and Iran, but this doesn't blemish the picture. We always look at the big picture,” Celik said, expressing pleasure over Mehmanparast's visit and promising his first visit abroad on behalf of the AKP would be to Iran upon an invitation by Mehmanparast. For his part, Mehmanparast said the region was going through a "sensitive” process. "We definitely need the cooperation of two big countries of the region, Iran and Turkey, to resolve the problems of the region,” he said, adding that certain sensitivities among public opinions of the two countries should be eased by politicians.