Attending the 68th session of the UN General Assembly in New York, Turkish President Abdullah Gül held a meeting with his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rohani, on Thursday in which he stressed the need for cooperation between the two countries to overcome regional problems, especially those in their war-torn neighbor, Syria.

According to a statement published on the Presidency’s website, the Turkish and Iranian presidents exchanged views on strengthening the diplomatic ties between the countries to start constructive cooperation to solve regional issues and to end the crisis in Syria. The foreign ministers of both countries are expected to hold a meeting on Friday.

Turkey and Iran have improved ties in recent years, but conflicting policies on the more than two-year-long Syrian crisis have strained relations since last year. Turkey is one of the staunchest supporters of the opposition forces trying to topple Bashar al-Assad, while Iran has stood by one of its last Shiite allies in the region despite growing international pressure on the regime.

Iranian policies have been influential in Syria. It is no secret that Iran has so far strongly supported the Assad regime because its downfall could inflict a deadly blow to Iranian influence in the region.

In supporting the opposition, Turkey has been accused of providing logistical support to al-Qaeda-linked groups. However, Ankara has made its position clear, saying it is not taking any part in the ongoing fighting. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said radical Islamist groups operating in Syria harm what he called the “revolution” in the neighboring country, denying claims that Turkey is supporting those groups.

A Turkish delegation consisting of high-level diplomats and led by Gül is attending the UN General Assembly’s 68th meeting in New York. In addition to Gül, Davutoğlu, Family and Social Policy Minister Fatma Şahin and Development Minister Cevdet Yılmaz are among the delegation representing Turkey in New York.

 source: todayszaman