Istanbul, April 7 () - Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as part of his official visit to Tehran on Tuesday.
The trip comes amid recent tension between Ankara and Tehran over the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen.
The visit has been on the cards for some time but some Iranian lawmakers had called for it to be scrapped after Erdoğan publicly backed Saudi Arabia’s operation against Iran-allied Houthi rebels in Yemen and criticized Tehran for trying to “dominate the region.”
During the one-day visit at the invitation of President Hassan Rouhani, Erdoğan will meet both Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, according to a statement posted on the Turkish presidential website over the weekend.
“During the visit bilateral relations will be addressed in all their dimensions, and there will also be an exchange of views on regional and international issues” the statement read.
Erdoğan is being accompanied by six ministers from the cabinet of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci, Customs and Trade Minister Nurettin Canikli, Energy Minister Taner Yıldız, Culture and Tourism Minister Ömer Çelik and Development Minister Cevdet Yılmaz are all participating in the trip.
The two countries have strong economic ties, with sanctions-hit Iran being the second-largest gas supplier to energy-strapped Turkey, providing it with 10 billion cubic meters per year.
However, diplomatic relations have suffered in recent years, as they have been punctuated by particularly sharp disagreements over how to resolve the civil war in neighboring Syria.
Erdoğan hosts Saudi deputy crown prince
Erdoğan hosted Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Interior Minister Prince Mohammad bin Nayef al-Saud at a lengthy meeting hours before departing for an official visit to Tehran.
Bin Nayef’s visit was not announced on the daily schedule of Erdoğan regularly posted on the official webpage of the presidency of the Republic of Turkey.
Accompanied by a delegation, the visiting deputy crown prince arrived in the Turkish capital at around 6 p.m. on April 6. The delegation, which travelled to Turkey on Bin Nayef’s private plane, was welcomed by Interior Minister Sebahattin Öztürk at the airport.
Later in the evening of April 6, the meeting between Erdoğan and Bin Nayef, which took place at the former’s presidential palace, lasted for an hour and 40 minutes.
The surprise meeting came just hours before Erdoğan’s scheduled visit to neighboring Iran on April 7, despite recent tensions between Ankara and Tehran over the Saudi-led bombing operation in Yemen.