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Iran: Tehran Welcomes Islamist Victory In Turkey

Tehran, 4 November (RFE/RL) - Iran's Foreign Ministry welcomed the victory of moderate Islamists in neighboring Turkey today. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters that Iran wished to be careful not to interfere in Turkey's internal affairs. But, he said, Iran naturally welcomes an election win by a party that wants ties with Iran.

Turkey's Justice and Development Party (AKP), a moderate party with roots in the Islamist movement, won an overwhelming victory in Turkey's general election yesterday.

AKP won 34 percent of the vote. The party is likely to take 363 seats in the 550-seat parliament -- enough to rule without a coalition.

AKP leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan has given assurances that his party will uphold Turkey's secular principles, and continue support for Turkey's bid to join the European Union and an IMF austerity program. In an interview today, he said his party had no intention to "challenge the world."

Erdogan leads the AKP but has been banned from government because of a conviction for Islamic sedition. Asefi told reporters that Iran regards as important that Turkey enjoy security and stability and that the election was peaceful.

In Brussels, The European Commission said today that it is ready to work with AKP.

The European Union's executive arm said in a statement that it is "ready to cooperate with the new government" emerging from the democratic elections.

It also noted that the AKP has clearly indicated that it wants to pursue a pro-European policy, and it said the commission expects Turkey to confirm its commitments to reforms in order to comply with the EU-accession criteria.

EU member Spain said today that the sweeping win by moderate Islamists in Turkey is no barrier to Ankara's hopes of one day joining the European Union. Foreign Minister Ana Palacio said in Madrid that the EU is not a Christian club.