ISTANBUL (AFP) – Iran and Turkey opened a third border crossing Saturday, with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu proclaiming the two neighbours “friends for eternity,” Anatolia news agency reported.
Davutoglu inaugurated the new crossing at Kapikoy in eastern Turkey’s Van province with his Iranian counterpart Ali Akbar Salehi, and said a fourth would open in June at Esendere in the southeast.
A fifth would follow at Dilucu in northeast Turkey, Davutoglu said, without giving a date.
“Our prime minister has set a target of 30 billion dollars” in annual trade with Iran, Anatolia quoted him as saying. “That is why we are opening this border crossing.”
Davutoglu added: “We are announcing to the world that Turkey and Iran will be friends for eternity.”
Media in Iran quoted Salehi as saying: “This border is a symbol of peace and friendship and the resurrection of the Silk Road which for centuries played an important role in making the economy of the region flourish.
“It also will help the development of the border area and welfare of its residents,” he added.
“Currently Iran-Turkey trade stands at 11 billion dollars annually and we are trying to hike it to 30 billion dollars,” Salehi said.
Relations between the two neighbours have blossomed since the conservative Islamic-based government of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan came to power in 2002.
Erdogan determined to triple the value of their bilateral trade — which at present consists mainly of sales of Iranian gas to Turkey — by 2015.
Turkey has reluctantly agreed to implement economic sanctions against Iran approved by the United Nations Security Council because of Tehran’s nuclear programme, which the West suspects is aimed at weapons development.
The joint border runs for 499 kilometres (310 miles).