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A Turkish diplomat in Tehran once told me the ambassador's residence had several centuries earlier been a dowry gift of a princess in a dynastic marriage linking the Ottomans and Safavids. The villa was one benefit of a long relationship between two neighbors stretching back long before the commercial discovery of oil or the Declaration of Independence of the colonies that would form the U.S.It is a relationship that has seen ups and downs. However, while Iran and Turkey have rarely been in a warm embrace they have usually solved problems through discussion and compromise.Hence, while reports in Iranian media that the visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Tehran would be postponed from January to late February may reflect strains, these will not upturn bilateral relations nor prevent a slow increase in trade, albeit constrained by U.S. and sanctions against Iran.Neither should we become too excited by colorful language in parts of Iranian media. Mainly Sunni Turkey and mainly Shiite Iran have different sympathies around the region and take opposing sides in the Syrian war.Turkey is a member of NATO, the only one bordering Iran. Despite Iran and Turkey being on opposite sides in Syria, when Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu visited Tehran in December, he joined with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in expressing opposition to "terrorism," widely taken as a reference to ISIS.
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