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Iran: Foreign Minister Starts Talks In Syrian-Turkish Shuttle Mission

Damascus, 8 October 1998 (RFE/RL) -- Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi has started a diplomatic shuttle mission between Turkish and Syrian officials in a bid to prevent the outbreak of a Middle East war. Correspondents report that Kharazi went into a meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq Shara immediately after arriving in the Syrian capital today.

He is expected to see President Hafez Assad later today.

Turkey and Syria are at odds over Ankara's allegations that Damascus is supporting a Kurdish separatist uprising in southeastern Turkey. The Iranian foreign minister said today that conflict between two Islamic countries only benefits their enemies, particularly Israel. Kharazi plans to go on to Ankara after finishing his talks in Syria.

In other news from Iran, state television is reporting that Iranian troops have clashed with Afghan Taliban forces.

Iran television reports that Taliban militiamen fired at Iranian border posts this morning in an area near Torbat-e-Jam. It said Taliban forces were forced to cease fire and withdraw after Iranian troops returned fire.

The Taliban later denied the incident.

Relations between Iran and Afghanistan soured in August after the Taliban killed eight Iranian diplomats and a journalist in a siege of a northern Afghan town.

The fighting coincides with the visit of a UN special envoy for Afghanistan to Tehran for talks on improving bilateral ties. Earlier today, the envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, said he thought there was a "good chance of success" in preventing war between the two countries.