Turkey spokesman rules out change in Erdogan's Iran visit

Published March 27th, 2015 - 06:00 GMT

The Turkish presidential spokesman has ruled out any change in President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's scheduled visit to Iran in the first week of April, amid the Saudi-led military offensive in Yemen against the Shiite Houthi rebels that have seized capital Sana'a and several other provinces.

Saying there would be no change to Erdogan’s schedule, spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said: "On the contrary, these developments have raised the significance of [Erdogan's] Iran visit."

On Thursday, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif urged for an "immediate stop" to the operations in Yemen, calling them a violation of the country's sovereignty.

In a joint statement, five Gulf countries -- Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait -- said the operation "was in response to a request from Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi to protect Yemen from the aggression of Houthi militias."

Kalin said that the Saudi side has already informed Turkish officials ahead of the operation and Erdogan has been following the related developments personally since late Wednesday.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said earlier on Thursday: "We support the military operation launched by a coalition force consisting of the countries in the region, led by the countries of Gulf Cooperation Council against the Houthi movement upon the request of the legitimately elected President Hadi, about which Saudi Arabia informed Turkey in advance."

Condemning the unilateral action by Houthi militias, Turkey also called on the movement and its foreign supporters to cease "threatening peace and security" in Yemen and the region.

"Our wish is a solution through dialogue for all this tension in Yemen," added Kalin.

Yemen has been rocked by turmoil since last September, when Houthis overran Sana'a, from where they have sought to extend their influence to other parts of the country. President Hadi was forced to flee the country Wednesday as rebels attacked.

© Copyright Andolu Ajansi

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