Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday hailed his country’s close ties with Turkey and called for stepped-up economic relations.

Speaking to reporters at Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport, Rouhani -- now on a state visit to Turkey at the invitation of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan -- said that economic relations would top the agenda of talks at a Thursday meeting in Ankara between the two leaders.

On Thursday, Rouhani is slated to attend the fifth session of the Turkey-Iran Cooperation Council in the Turkish capital.

“We will discuss means of enhancing ties and overcoming the obstacles to achieving that goal,” Rouhani said, adding: “Turkey is extremely important to Iran.”

“We share deep historical, cultural and religious ties,” the Iranian president said. “In recent months, Turkey -- and especially President Erdogan -- has taken a firm stance against the U.S. sanctions [on Iran].”

In reference to recent tripartite talks on Syria between Turkey, Iran and Russia, he said: “We’re pursuing two very important issues: the security of Syria and the return of refugees.”

He added: “But Syria’s future must be decided by Syrians.”