ANTALYA (Dispatches) -- Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif has praised remarks by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that certain countries were stirring up unrest in Iraq.
Erdogan said Saturday he knows who is behind the anti-government protests in Iraq. "We can guess who is behind the unrest in Iraq,” he said. "What makes us worry about the problems of people who are thousands or tens of thousands of kilometers away from our country is Islam as a common denominator and the consciousness of being an Ummah,” Erdogan said.
The Turkish president speculated that those behind Iraq’s unrest probably planned to spread the protests into Iran.
Last month, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei warned that the U.S. and Western spy services, with the financial help of the reactionary Arab regimes, were seeking to instigate "dangerous hostilities" in Iraq and Lebanon despite their people's "legitimate demands."
Zarif, who was in Turkey to attend the 24th meeting of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), said for Tehran "neighbors always come first.”
"In keeping with Iran’s foreign policy that posits our neighbors should always come first, regional cooperation remains a priority,” he said. "We hope this cooperation can be welcomed by neighbors to our south, too.”
Speaking at the summit, the Iranian top diplomat called on ECO countries to use the organization’s potential to the fullest in order to grow closer ties between the members and use their funds as well.
"With a population of around half a billion people, incredible geographic situation, vast energy and mineral resources, advanced human resources, huge commercial market as well as cultural and historical similarities, the ECO has all of the required parameters to succeed in multilateral cooperation between nations,” he said.
Zarif said a lack of appropriate design for economic cooperation was the primary challenge facing the ECO.
He said the ECOTA or the Economic Cooperation Organization Trade Agreement and other internal arrangements of the ECO needed to become operational so that all traders could get involved in the advancement of the Middle East region and its nations.
Using national currencies for bilateral trade, reducing the costs and speeding up the customs clearance were some of the measures that Zarif said could be taken to boost cooperation.