There is no way that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could have intended to insult Iran’s territorial integrity, Iran’s president said on Monday.

In a press conference, Hassan Rouhani said that “based on my past knowledge of Mr. Erdogan, it is very unlikely that he had any intention of insulting our territorial integrity or insulting the Iranian people.”

Rouhani also stressed the importance of Turkish-Iranian ties, saying the two countries work together on important regional issues.

The controversy emerged after Erdogan, in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku last week to mark the country’s success in liberating Nagorno-Karabakh from nearly 30 years of Armenian occupation, read out a poem.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif claimed that the poem took aim at Iran’s territorial integrity.

In a later phone talk with Zarif, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the poem was about Karabakh and that during his remarks, Erdogan never made mention of Iran, not even implicitly. 

* Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara

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