Turkey, Iran agree to take steps against PKK

Countries at 6th Turkey-Iran High-Level Council meeting reiterate commitment to form new economic cooperation areas

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Turkey and Iran agreed Tuesday to take steps together in the region in the interests of both countries, including joint operations against terrorist groups.

At the virtual 6th Turkey-Iran High-Level Cooperation Council meeting, co-chaired by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani and held via video link due to the coronavirus, Turkey and Iran reiterated their commitment to developing new economic cooperation areas to turn around their declining bilateral trade volume, according to a joint declaration issued by the countries following the meeting.

The countries agreed to take steps, including joint operations against the PKK and PJAK -- Iranian-based offshoot of the PKK terror group -- as well as other terrorist organizations.

As the PKK/PJAK and all terror groups in the region pose a common threat to the security of both Turkey and Iran, both sides stressed that it is incumbent upon both countries to fully utilize existing cooperation mechanisms against the activities of PKK/PJAK elements and other terrorist groups along common borders and to take coordinated steps for result-oriented cooperation, including joint operations, to counter terrorism and organized crime, said the declaration.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US, and EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. 

Stressing the importance of energy, both countries affirmed the importance of continuing cooperation in the field on the basis of mutually beneficial interests.

Both sides also agreed to further strengthen cooperation on tourism and culture after eliminating the risks of COVID-19.

Both countries reiterated their determination to further enhance good neighborly relations nourished by their strong political will and expressed their resolve to effectively implement their bilateral decisions on the basis of mutual interests, the declaration said.

The previous council meeting was held in 2018.

Ongoing international conflicts

Reaffirming their commitment to preserving Iraq’s territorial integrity, political unity and sovereignty, the countries said Iraq’s stability, welfare, and security play an important role in regional and international peace and stability.

They underlined that sustainable peace and stability in Afghanistan can only be achieved through a genuine Afghan-led and -owned peace process that would lead to a political settlement and expressed their support for such a settlement.

Underlining their strong commitment to Syria’s sovereignty, independence, unity, and territorial integrity in line with all agreements in the framework of the Astana format, both sides reaffirmed their conviction that the Syrian conflict could be resolved through a political process in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2254.

Syria has been ravaged by a civil war since early 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protesters.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced, according to UN estimates.

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