Iranian President Visits Turkey to Strengthen Ties

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Iranian President Hasan Rouhani arrived in Ankara Monday for his first state visit since his election last year.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul welcomed Rouhani and his delegation at the president's palace in Cankaya.

According to Iran's semi-official IRNA news agency, the trip "can play a crucial role in promoting Iran-Turkey ties."

Turkey imports vast quantities of Iranian oil and gas and serves as a transit in Iranian energy exports to EU countries.

The two leaders will discuss increased cooperation in "cinematic cooperation, scientific exchanges, education, culture, sports and youth, tourism and film industry, as well as cultural exchanges" the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News reported.

The two presidents may sign up to 10 cooperative agreements during the visit.

"Everybody acknowledges both Turkey and Iran's geopolitical importance," Rouhani told the press before leaving for Ankara. "When these two countries come together, a link between the Gulf of Oman, the Black Sea and to the Mediterranean will be possible -- in other words, connecting the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean," he said, adding that "…relations between these two important countries are not only significant for Turkey and Iran, but also for the development of the entire region."

Rouhani said they will also discuss regional issues, including Syria and Iraq.

"We are both neighbors of Iraq and Syria. Important things are happening in our region. Thanks to Allah, there are positive developments in Iraq and Syria," he said.

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