Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday called on neighbouring Iran to act honestly after Tehran’s about-face on Istanbul as the venue for nuclear negotiations.
“It is necessary to act honestly. They continue to lose prestige in the world because of a lack of honesty,” Erdogan told a televised press conference in the latest salvo in the war of words between the two countries.
He was speaking a day after Iranian officials announced that it no longer wanted Turkey to host the next round of nuclear negotiations between Tehran and world powers, apparently because of Ankara’s stance on the Syria crisis.
Instead, Tehran says Baghdad or Beijing could hold the meeting due April 13 and 14.
“Taking into account the extremist and illogical position of Turkey on Syria… Turkey has de facto lost any competence to host the meeting,” Aladin Borujerdi, the head of the Iranian parliament’s foreign affairs commission, said Wednesday.
Turkey has for the past two years acted as an intermediary between Iran and world powers on the nuclear issue. But its increasingly strident stance against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime over more than a year of deadly violence in Syria has been poisoning relations.
Erdogan said Iran would gain prestige if the talks were held in Turkey because “we will display a fair approach”.
Iran said it no longer wanted Turkey to host the nuclear talks after it staged a second “Friends of Syria” conference last Sunday which was sympathetic to the Syrian opposition.
Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani criticised the meeting, prompting Turkey’s foreign ministry to summoned the Iranian ambassador Wednesday to express Ankara’s dismay at comments that “obviously contradicted the deep-rooted relations” between the two countries.
Ties have soured since Ankara agreed to implement a NATO-led early warning defence system last year, which Iran deems is hostile to the Islamic republic.
Ankara has also joined a US-imposed sanctions push to cut purchases of Iranian oil.