Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi arrived in Turkey on Wednesday for talks with Turkish leaders expected to focus on Tehran’s controversial nuclear programme, an embassy spokesman said.
Salehi is due to meet with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul in Ankara, the spokesman said, adding that political and economic issues would figure high on the agenda, without elaborating.
The visit comes as the United States has been spearheading a campaign to squeeze Iran’s oil exports to put greater pressure on its nuclear programme, which the West believes masks a drive to develop atomic weapons.
Iran insists the nuclear drive is exclusively for peaceful purposes.
The European Union is expected to announce further sanctions of its own, including an oil embargo, at the end of this month.
Turkey has repeatedly said it is only bound by sanctions decided by the UN Security Council.
Iran provided about 40 percent of Turkey’s oil needs in 2011 and its biggest refiner Tupras recently made a deal to purchase nine million tons of crude oil from Tehran.
Salehi will attend a joint economic committee meeting in Ankara on Wednesday and the next day he will meet with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu over lunch, the spokesman said.
Nuclear negotiations between Iran and world powers have been stalled since they collapsed a year ago in Istanbul.
Last week, Iran’s influential speaker of parliament Ali Larijani said during a visit to Turkey that his country was ready for “serious” talks with world powers on its nuclear programme.