PHOTO: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has cautiously welcomed a call by Iran to ease tensions over the crisis in Syria.

Erdoğan said on Saturday:

There are disagreements between Turkey and Iran, but I do not want these disparities to affect good neighborly relations….Sectarianism should not prompt us to become enemies; Islam must be our reference.

There are intentions in the world to divide us and we need to join our efforts and come together. Look at what is happening in Iraq, Syria, Palestine and Libya….We have to overcome these problems and if we manage to do so, the Islamic world will be more powerful.

Earlier on Saturday, the Supreme Leader’s top aide Ali Akbar Velayati said, after a meeting with a senior Turkish cleric, that Turkey and Russia should resolve a dispute fed by the Turkish downing of a Russian warplane near the Syrian border on November 24.

“[Turkey and Russia] are our neighbors and we do not want to see any tension between [our] neighboring countries, with whom we have friendly relations,” Velayati said.

See Iran Daily, Dec 27: Tehran Tries to Ease Tensions with Turkey over Syrian Crisis

Despite Erdoğan’s response, the Iranian Foreign Ministry was not satisfied. Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari said on Monday the Turkish President had accused Iran of “sectarian” policies with Tehran’s support of Syria’s Assad regime:

This is not the first time that such rhetoric are used against the Islamic Republic of Iran with specific political objectives and in the frameworks of the ongoing conflicts in the region.

Jaberi Ansari asserted that Iran’s approach is based on “the legitimate” right of Syrians to decide their own future.

Erdoğan: I Rejected Russia-Syria-Iran-Iraq Coordinating Center

In his interview with the Saudi outlet al-Arabiya, Erdoğan said he rejected the offer to join a Baghdad-based coordinating center — led by Russia and including Iran, Iraq, and the Assad regime — following the start of Russian bombing inside Syria at the end of September.

Syria, Iran, Iraq and Russia formed a quartet alliance in Baghdad and asked Turkey to join, but I told [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin that I cannot sit alongside a president [Assad] whose legitimacy is in doubt.