Ahmadinejad spoke at a meeting in Istanbul
Thursday of the Economic Cooperation Organization, as he handed off the rotating
ECO presidency to Turkey. He said the group has great potential for collective
Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Pakistani President President Asif Ali Zardari and Iraqi leader Jalal Talabani are among the heads of state attending the summit, which focuses on promoting trade between member states.
The summit is taking place about a month before Iran holds talks in Istanbul on its controversial nuclear program with six world powers.
Ahmadinejad and his top nuclear official, Ali Akbar Salehi, met with Turkish officials late Wednesday to discuss the nuclear negotiations.
Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said
Thursday that Turkey, as the host country, will do whatever it can to achieve a
productive round of talks. He said the positive momentum gained at the first
round of talks recently in Geneva must be maintained.
Analysts say Iran may ask Turkey to mediate the talks in Istanbul with diplomats from Germany and the five permanent U.N. Security Council members -- the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France.
The U.N. Security Council, the United States and the European Union have imposed sanctions on Iran for its refusal to stop enriching uranium, a process that can be used to make nuclear weapons.
Ahmadinejad (left) shakes hands with Turkish President Abdullah Gul
On the economic front, Turkey's Anatolia news
agency said Turkish President Abdullah Gul urged all ECO members to partner with
the group's trade and development bank. The news agency said he also called for
strengthening energy and communications ties, and improving rail connections
between Turkey and ECO countries.
On Wednesday, Turkey's Ahmet Davutoglu said the group had fallen behind in some economic goals it had hoped to reach by 2015.
ECO was founded in 1985 by Iran, Pakistan and Turkey, and includes Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
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