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Turkey, Pakistan relations 'strong and getting stronger'

ANKARA – Anatolia news agency | 8/27/2009 12:00:00 AM |

Following his meeting with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu says they decided to establish a strategic cooperation and coordination structure between the two foreign ministries and that the a joint economic forum would convene as soon as possible

Following meetings and a trip to the Turkish city of Konya with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said the two ministers agreed to further relations between the two countries.

In a joint press meeting with Qureshi, Davutoğlu said the talks with his Pakistani counterpart had been going on for a couple of days. The two foreign ministers had attended the Friends of Democratic Pakistan Conference in Istanbul on Tuesday and had visited the Turkish central Anatolian city together.

Although the two countries do not share a border, “relations between Turkey and Pakistan are exemplary,” Davutoğlu said. He said the two countries rowed in the same boat. Davutoğlu said Turkey and Pakistan acted like one country in regard to almost all issues; that they approached the issues from the same perspective; and that the friendship between the countries was strategic, historical, and permanent.

The Turkish foreign minister said he viewed supporting Pakistan as an obligatory duty rather than a political issue. He said although relations between the two countries were very strong politically, economic relations between them were not satisfactory to either country.

The meetings resulted in some important decisions being made, Davutoğlu said. He said a regular strategic cooperation coordination mechanism would be established between the two foreign ministries. This mechanism, Davutoğlu added, would set up a framework for cooperation especially regarding Asian issues.

He said this new mechanism would aim to make a long-term analysis about global and regional developments and more comprehensive evaluations on issues regarding a mutual future. Davutoğlu said a detailed study on the issue would be made, and that regular evaluations from think tanks and societies would be sought.

He said high-level political contact would increase in the future and that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan would visit Pakistan.

Qureshi said they had decided to convene the Joint Economic Commission as soon as possible. The commission has not convened since 2002. The two ministers also reviewed cooperation in the transportation field, said Davutoğlu, adding that a railroad project they had decided to build has been realized and that a train leaving Islamabad had traveled through Tehran to reach Turkey’s eastern border. He said the railroad was among the most important projects that would close the distance between the two countries and would be regularly used. He said it would become one of the major railways to connect not only Pakistan to Turkey but also South Asia with Europe.

Davutoğlu said the foreign ministers also handled regional issues, including Afghanistan. He said they discussed steps needed to realize the $100-million-aid package for Pakistan. He said they decided the Turkish International Development Agency, or TİKA, would open an office in Islamabad.

In relation to trilateral meetings between Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Davutoğlu said they would be gaining momentum, adding that they would collaborate on a regional meeting. “There is a strong political will between the two countries and this will knows no bounds to take relations to the utmost level,” he said.

Qureshi also evaluated the meetings as successful. “Pakistan has always been a friend of Turkey and will continue to be so,” he said, adding that this friendship was independent from the governments ruling each country and that the friendship would continue regardless of whichever party took office, and that they valued the friendship greatly.

Qureshi said Asia would become more important in the future and that Pakistan was a significant country in the region. Turkey had considerable ties to the region and both Pakistan and Turkey would benefit from a cooperative arrangement. The Pakistani foreign minister said although Turkey and Pakistan had a strong relationship, despite good intentions, economic relations between the two countries did not reflect that strength. Qureshi said the private sectors in both countries were dynamic and could better economic ties.

Under this framework, he said he proposed convening a forum during Erdoğan’s promised visit to Pakistan in October. He said there was potential for cooperation between the two countries in multiple fields, including agriculture.

 

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