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Turkey keen to cooperate with Pakistan in all fields

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Both countries to upgrade strategic ties, jointly defeat terrorism; Zardari, Gul have heart-to-heart meeting

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Turkey on Wednesday expressed resolve to upgrade their strategic partnership and intensify political and economic cooperation besides jointly defeating militancy and terrorism that continue to claim scores of innocent lives in Pakistan and Turkey.

The understanding came at a meeting between President Asif Ali Zardari and Turkish President Abdullah Gul here at the Presidency which reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral relations.
The one-on-one meeting between the two presidents was followed by a delegation level formal talks which were attended on the Pakistan side by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Minister for Food & Agriculture Nazar Muhammad Gondal, Interior Minister Rehman A Malik, Railways Minister Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, Finance Adviser Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh besides other senior officials.

On Turkish side, Minister of State Prof Mehmet Aydin, Minister for Health Prof Recap Akdag, Minister for Agricultural & Rural Affairs M Mehdi Eker, were present besides Turkish Ambassador Babar Hizlan, members of parliament and other senior officials.

During the meeting, President Zardari said the public-private partnership model of development adopted by Pakistan could open new horizons of cooperation between Pakistan and Turkey and lend greater depth and substance to the existing cordial ties between the two countries and transform it into a strategic partnership.

Briefing the media on the meeting, Spokesperson for the President Farhatullah Babar said during talks President Asif Ali Zardari emphasised the need for upgrading communication links to further boost trade, commerce and people-to-people contacts. He said the existing rail link needed to be upgraded so as to open up and connect vast European and Asian markets to the benefit of not only Pakistan and Turkey but also of all people in the region. He suggested that the train may be named after the Turkish President as ìGul Trainî.

The president said the proposed 6,500 km Islamabad-Istanbul rail link would vastly improve regional connectivity. It may be mentioned that as per the decision taken during the ECO Ministerial meeting in Tehran in March last year, the demonstration run of the Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul container train was launched on August 14 last year.

During President Zardari’s January visit to Istanbul, the Turkish railway authorities also gave a detailed briefing on the prospects of the Islamabad-Istanbul container train. Turkey also offered to assist Pakistan in upgrading its railway network to facilitate operationalisation of the Islamabad-Istanbul container train.

Farhatullah Babar said the two presidents also witnessed the signing of three bilateral agreements between the two countries in the Presidency at the conclusion of the delegation level talks.

The bilateral agreements signed on Wednesday pertained to MoU for collaboration in the fields of agro-based industries, MoU between the Board of Investment of GOP and Republic of Turkey Prime Ministry Investment Support and Promotion Agency (ISPAT) and MoU on cooperation in Planning between the Government of Pakistan and Government of the Republic of Turkey.

After the signing ceremony, the two presidents read out their respective statements to the press. In a joint press talk, President Zardari said Pakistan greatly values its strategic partnership with Turkey which is rooted in shared interests, common concerns and convergence of perceptions on regional and global issues.

“Pakistan is an important country of the region and the world because of its flourishing democracy and strategic location and our bilateral relations are also an example for the entire world,” said Turkish President Abdullah Gul.

President Zardari said Pakistan and Turkey have reiterated the commitment to boost relations in the diverse fields, including economy, trade, investment, agriculture, infrastructure development, defence and people-to-people contacts.

“Keeping in view the huge potential, we have decided to pay special attention to re-energise our trade relations for the mutual benefit of our people and meet the agreed targets,” he added.

President Zardari said the private sector plays a pivotal role in trade enhancement and economic development and to harness potential of the private sector, the two countries had launched Pak-Turk CEO’s forum during the visit of the Turkish prime minister to Pakistan last October.

He said the second meeting of the CEO forum is being held in Islamabad on Wednesday afternoon and in Lahore Thursday. The president said both Pakistan and Turkey condemn terrorism and extremism and “we have reiterated our staunch resolve to jointly defeat this menace”.

He said during talks with President Abdullah Gul, he briefed him on Pakistan’s campaign against extremism and militancy which enjoyed full support of the people. He said the remarkable success of the military operations in Swat, Malakand and South Waziristan are a result of national unity and immense sacrifices of the people and armed forces.

President Zardari said Pakistan and Turkey hold identical views on Afghanistan and “we will continue to lend our support to Kabul’s national efforts to achieve durable peace, prosperity and sustainable development”.

In his remarks, Turkish President Abdullah said Turkey has long standing and historical relations with Pakistan and efforts will be made to further strengthen these relations in future. He said there should be more delegation level visits and meetings to take the relations to new heights.

Appreciating Pakistan’s role in the war against terror, he said the prevailing environment of reconciliation and harmony in Pakistan will guarantee the success of Pakistan in the fight against the menace of militancy and extremism.

The Turkish president also urged the international community to help Pakistan in the fight against this menace. Responding to a question for promoting trade relations between the two countries, the Turkish president said Pakistan and Turkey enjoy excellent brotherly relations but these have not been translated in the fields of economy, commerce and trade.

He said efforts will be made to take the trade between the two countries to the tune of five billion dollars in the shortest possible time. He described his visit to Pakistan as very important and expressed the confidence that it will give new dimensions to relations between the two countries.

He said the Wednesdayís talks will result in concrete outcome and both the countries will enhance their cooperation in economy, trade and energy. He appreciated Pakistan for its contribution to war on terror and also commended the political parties for joining in to root out the menace.

He urged the international community to express solidarity with Pakistan to win the war. He emphasised the need for improving rail link between the two countries and enhanced trade through train service.

President Gul said the energy cooperation is another important field where both the countries can cooperate to overcome Pakistan’s power crisis. He said during his visit to Lahore on Thursday he looked forward to further promoting cultural relations with Pakistan besides people-to-people contacts.

President Zardari thanked Turkey for cooperating with Pakistan, especially in hosting bilateral meetings with Afghanistan, to bring peace and stability in the region. He said Pakistan enjoys excellent relations with Afghanistan and is cooperating to bring peace in that country.

Answering a question, President Abdullah Gul said both the countries have great potential for economic and trade relations but it is unfortunate that it has not yet enhanced properly.He hoped that his current visit would lead to enhanced trade and economic relations. He was confident that the bilateral trade would touch $2 billion mark in a year or two and ultimately swell to $5 billion a year.

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