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Iranian, Turkish Presidents Discuss Syria, Bilateral Trade

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rohani held an official meeting in Ankara on April 16 with the Syrian conflict and bilateral trade high on the agenda.

Turkey and Iran are on different sides of Syria's war: Shi'ite majority Iran backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad while mainly Sunni Turkey has been one of his fiercest critics.

Erdogan said that despite their differences on regional issues, Turkey and Iran agreed on the need to end the bloodshed in the region.

The two neighbors are looking to boost bilateral trade and improve banking relations following the lifting of most international sanctions against Iran in January.

In a joint press conference, Erdogan said he hoped bilateral trade would reach $30 billion annually. It currently stands at just $10 billion after years of sanctions.

Rohani said "the situation is ripe for cooperation between Turkey and Iran in the post-sanctions era."

"The most important part is closer ties between banks," Rohani said, adding: "Turkish banks can now establish branches in Iran to help facilitate economic relations between the two countries."

Iran has called on the United States and the European Union to help it access the global financial system, including assets that Tehran says were supposed to be unfrozen following a landmark nuclear deal.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP