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Turkish President Erdogan ensures cooperation with Pakistan

Pakistani Premier Sharif expresses support for Turkey's fight against terrorism, says both countries 'natural partners'

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Turkey and Pakistan are determined to increase cooperation at all levels, including on bilateral and international platforms, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday, as he welcomed Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif at the presidential palace in Ankara.

“We have comprehensively discussed our bilateral relations, and regional and global issues,” Erdogan said while addressing a joint news conference with Sharif, following the one-on-one and delegation-level talks in the Turkish capital.

“We are ready to further strengthen Turkey-Pakistan relations “with a strategic perspective in line with the history, friendship, and potential of the two countries,” he added.

On bilateral cooperation in the defense industry, Erdogan said: “We are pleased with the concrete cooperation projects developed recently … The joint corvettes production as part of Turkey’s National Ship Project (MILGEM) sets an ‘important example.'”

In July 2018, Pakistan Navy signed a contract for the acquisition of four MILGEM-class ships with Turkey’s state-run defense firm ASFAT. According to the plan, two corvettes will be built in Turkey and the other two will be built in Pakistan, which also involves technology transfer.

We have achieved the annual bilateral trade volume worth $1 billion, and are aiming to increase it to $5 billion, the Turkish president said.

The two leaders, with the participation of Cabinet members of both countries, also attended the signing ceremony of the agreements.

Read more: Turkey delivers third MILGEM-class corvette to Pakistan

Turkey and Pakistan signed seven agreements in various fields including trade, housing, debt management, and transportation.

Ensuring stability in Afghanistan

Erdogan said ensuring permanent stability in Afghanistan is of critical importance and “we are working together to help the Afghan people alleviate the effects of the humanitarian crisis.” The country is gripped by a severe humanitarian crisis triggered since the Taliban takeover last August.

“Turkey sent four charity trains carrying more than 4,000 tons of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, while our preparations for the departure of the 5th train are under way,” he said.

Read more: Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan push Taliban for peace

About the longstanding Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan, Erdogan said: “We continue to support the efforts put forward to resolve the Kashmir issue … in line with the legitimate expectations of our Kashmiri brothers and within the framework of the UN resolutions.”

Turkey’s enemies are Pakistan’s enemies

For his part, Prime Minister Sharif, who is in Turkey on a three-day official visit, expressed full support to Ankara in its fight against terrorism, including the PKK.

“Our two nations have stood with each other in times of need and on issues of core interest,” he said. “Pakistan stands with Turkey in its fight against terrorism including the threats posed by FETO (the group behind the 2016 defeated coup in Turkey) and the PKK. Enemies of Turkey are enemies of Pakistan,” Sharif underlined.

In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US, and the EU – has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people. The YPG/PYD is PKK’s Syrian offshoot.

Read more: Pakistan, Turkey, China working on a joint drone program?

The Pakistani premier said the two sides will further the bilateral ties with a focus on trade, defense, energy, tourism, and education, and that he looks forward to welcoming Erdogan to Islamabad in September.

Terming Pakistan and Turkey as “natural partners,” Sharif said a “strong” business delegation from Turkey will visit Pakistan for “solid and productive results.”

Lauding Turkey’s progress in e-commerce, tourism, education and infrastructure, Sharif said Pakistan would be “very happy” to get Turkey’s support in sectors such as hydropower generation and renewable energy.

“We would be very happy in terms of investments by our Turkish friends who will make profits and we will get cheap energy, which will be a win-win situation,” he said.

The Pakistani prime minister said he expects further cooperation in the defense sector including in the sale of Turkish-made ATAK helicopters.

Thanking Turkey for its “steadfast support” on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, Sharif said: “Turkey’s unflinching support provides great strength to valiant Kashmiri people who have been subjected to the worst kinds of human rights violations for over seven decades.”

“We are convinced that durable peace in South Asia can only be achieved if the longstanding Jammu and Kashmir dispute is resolved in accordance with UN resolutions, and in accordance with wishes of Kashmiri people,” he added.

Read more: ‘Brothers in arms’: Pakistan, Turkey jointly inaugurate new homes for war victims in Idlib, Syria

Sharif also expressed support for Turkish Cypriots, saying that “we will continue to support their legitimate rights and aspirations.”

The Pakistani prime minister also met Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu earlier in the day and addressed Turkey-Pakistan Business Council on Tuesday. His delegation includes Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Defense Minister Khawaja Asif, among others.

Anadolu with additional input by GVS News Desk