ANKARA, Turkey (AP) _ Turkey and Syria may be close to a peaceful resolution of their dispute over Kurdish rebels, Iran's foreign minister said after talks with officials in Ankara today.

Turkish leaders accuse Syria of sheltering the rebels, enabling them to carry out cross-border raids. The rebels are seeking autonomy within Turkey, a war that has claimed 37,000 lives since 1984.

Syria denies the accusation, but Turkey's warlike rhetoric has raised fears of a regional conflict, prompting Iran to send its foreign minister to Turkey to attempt a diplomatic solution.

The minister, Kamal Kharrazi, met with his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem and President Suleyman Demirel today.

``If everything goes right, there may soon be a peaceful settlement of the situation,'' Kharrazi told reporters after lunch with Cem, who thanked Iran for its ``brotherly efforts.''

On Thursday, Kharrazi discussed the problem with Syrian President Hafez Assad.

Iran entered mediation efforts as the head of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, a 55-member group that includes Syria and Turkey. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak also shuttled between the two countries earlier this week.

Relations between Syria and Turkey have always been troublesome. Syria is worried about Ankara's plans to build dams on the Euphrates River _ a main source of water for Syria. Recent progress in Israeli-Turkish military and diplomatic relations also has angered Syria.