Pak, Turkey to upgrade strategic partnership

President Asif Ali Zardari greets Turkish President Abdullah Gul on his arrival the Aiwan-e-Sadr

Pakistan and Turkey have agreed on Wednesday to upgrade strategic partnership and step up political and economic cooperation.

Addressing a joint press conference at the Presidency along with his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul Zardari urged the Turkish President to set up political, economic and defence coordination

President Asif Ali Zardari said that the successful military operation in country’s tribal areas would ensure end of terrorism and extremism. Pakistan and Turkey can defeat terrorism jointly, he said.

Dubbing Turkey as Pakistan’s brotherly country, he said, Pakistan values its ties with Turkey and relations between both countries in field of education, defense, agriculture, education, energy and trade would be made stronger.

We have struck agreement with Turkey in area of economic cooperation, agriculture and investment, he said. Both countries have strongly condemned the terrorism and extremism in strongest term and decided to cooperate with each other for elimination of menace of terrorism, he said.

We have flushed out terrorists and extremists from Swat and South Waziristan with the support of masses, he said. Pakistan, he said, would continue to play its leading and responsible role for peace in the region.

Answering to a question, he said, all stakeholders would have to play their due role for rehabilitation and reconstruction of country’s tribal areas. Answering to a question, he said, Afghanistan is our brotherly country and relations between both countries have considerably improved. He also lauded role of Turkish President and Turkish Government in this regard.

We have already said peaceful Afghanistan is in better interest of Pakistan, he said. Replying to a question, he said, he has informed Turkish President Abdullah Gul about steps being taken by Pakistan for elimination of terrorism and extremism.

Pakistan, he said, also values strategic partnership with Turkey. Speaking at the occasion, Turkish President Abdullah Gul said Pakistan is very close friend of Turkey and relations between masses of both countries would be intensified.

Pakistan is an important country of the region and its importance can not neglected at any cost, Gul said. Answering to a question, he said, Pakistan has rendered matchless sacrifices in war against terror. Turkey, he said, would continue to play its role for peace and stability in Pakistan.

We are trying our level best to increase volume of trade between Pakistan and Turkey from 2 billion dollar to 5 billion dollar, he said. Economic cooperation Pakistan and Turkey can bring both countries more close to each other, he said.

During the meeting, he said, we also discussed ways and means to run bullet train between both countries. Turkish President Abdullah Gul also vowed to help Pakistan to tackle energy crises.

Earlier the one-on-one meeting between the two Presidents was followed by delegation level formal talks which were attended on the Pakistan side by Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Mr. Nazar Muhammad Gondal, Minister for Food & Agriculture, Mr. Rehman A. Malik, Interior Minister, Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, Minister for Railways, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Finance Advisor besides other senior officials. On Turkish side Prof. Mehmet Aydin, Minister of State, Prof. recap Akdag, Minister for Health, Mr. M. Mehdi Eker, Minister for Agri & Rural Affairs were present besides Turkish Ambassador Mr. Babar Hizlan, members of the Parliament and other senior officials.

Briefing the media about the meeting Spokesperson to the President former Senator Farhatullah Babar said that during talks President Asif Ali Zardari emphasized the need for upgrading communication links to further boost trade, commerce and people to people contacts. He said that the existing rail link needed to be upgraded so as to cut the travel time between the two countries. President Asif Ali Zardari said that if the existing rail link was upgraded, it could 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. President Zardari suggested that the train may be named after the Turkish President as ‘Gul Train’.

He said the proposed 6500 km Islamabad-Istanbul rail link would vastly improve regional connectivity. It may be mentioned that as per decision taken during 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 January visit to Istanbul, the Turkish railway authorities also gave a detailed briefing on the prospects of Islamabad-Istanbul container train. Turkey also offered to assist Pakistan in upgrading its railway network to facilitate operationalization of the Islamabad-Istanbul container train.

Mr. Babar said that 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 today 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.

Memorandum of Understanding for collaboration in the fields of Agro-based industries seeks to strengthen cooperation in the filed of agro-based industry on the basis of mutual benefit and to achieve higher levels of efficiency in production, processing and marketing of Agro-based industry components. The MoU also seeks to promote and encourage the private sectors to establish sole propriety enterprises as well as joint ventures including industrial units in the export processing zones outside urban areas, other agreed locations and in the rural areas at existing clusters in Pakistan and encourage investment in the areas such as fruit, food, vegetables and flower products processing units, dairy industries, poultry farming/production, cold storage industries and commercial production of seeds and nurseries for fruits, vegetables, flowers and tubers etc.

MoU between the Board of Investment of GOP and Republic of Turkey Prime Ministry Investment Support and Promotion Agency (ISPAT) has been signed for the purpose of strengthening collaboration between the two countries for enhancing and strengthening investment cooperation. BOI and ISPAT agreed to collaborate in promotion of productive and commercial cooperation, support of enterprises in implementing common projects and transfer of know-how.

MoU on Planning seeks to strengthen mutual cooperation by means of exchange of information, research and planning studies and institutional capacity building. Both the countries through this MoU agreed to benefit, to the extent possible, from the expertise of each other in national and regional planning, strategic planning, economic models and activities, international and interregional cooperation, preparation and evaluation of the development plans and their annual programs, sustainable development and e-Government.

After the signing ceremony the two Presidents walked up to a press stakeout in which the two President read out their respective statements.

Earlier, President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani warmly welcomed the Turkish President when he reached the Presidency Wednesday.

President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani and President Gul stood in honour at the dais as the national anthems of Turkey and Pakistan were played.

A smartly turned out contingent of armed forces presented a guard of honour and salute to the dignitary, who along with President Zardari reviewed the parade. The Turkish president was introduced with the cabinet members and the three services chiefs.

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