By Syed Zafar Mehdi
TEHRAN (AA) - The Iranian president on Thursday congratulated Turkey on its 97th Republic Day, and reaffirmed Tehran's commitment to bolster bilateral relations.
On Oct. 29, 1923, founding father Mustafa Kemal Ataturk officially proclaimed Turkey's status as a republic, and was elected as its first president in an unanimous vote.
Since then, Turkey celebrates the day on Oct. 29 every year. The Republic is due to celebrate its centenary in 2023.
In a statement, Hassan Rouhani stressed the importance of strengthening relations based on long cultural and historical ties.
He said the two countries have vast potential for cooperation in political, economic, scientific and health fields.
Rouhani said bilateral ties need to be protected, keeping in view the present global conditions and the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that cooperation in the areas of healthcare and trade is a priority.
Iran's Foreign Ministry also issued a statement, extending greetings to the people and the government of Turkey.
It said the "long-lasting friendly relations" have proven resilient, reaffirming commitment to further expand bilateral ties.
Iran and Turkey, neighbors and close allies, enjoy closer cooperation in various fields, which has seen substantial progress in recent years.
Last week, in a telephonic conversation, Rouhani and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan hailed Tehran-Ankara ties as a model for other regional states.
During the conversation, Rouhani expressed optimism that trade between the two countries would grow with more transit of trucks in full compliance with COVID-19 protocols.
Iran sees trade with Turkey as key in efforts to bypass US sanctions that seek to undermine Tehran's main source of revenue -- oil exports.
Turkey also relies on Iran as a big market for its manufacturing goods, besides crops and fruits.