Zardari, Erdogan discuss bilateral matters, international situation


President Asif Ali Zardari and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan met on the sidelines of 12th ECO summit on Tuesday and held wide-ranging discussions on bilateral, regional and international issues, peace process in Afghanistan and the situation in Middle East particularly Syria.
The president said both Pakistan and Turkey needed to coordinate closely on the deteriorating situation in Syria as it had serious implications for the entire Middle Eastern region.
He said Pakistan had already condemned the reprehensible act of cross-border shelling in which Turkish citizens lost their lives and also expressed Pakistan’s full support and solidarity with Turkey on this grave incident. Zardari said Pakistan’s position in this regard was based on the principle of respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, adding that as stable democracies both Pakistan and Turkey were well placed to play a constructive role at this current critical juncture.
He said Pakistan appreciated the democratic transformations in the Middle East and the broader Islamic World and believed that the transformation should be in accordance with the aspirations of the people.
Praising Turkey’s constructive role in Afghanistan, the president said both countries needed to intensify their cooperation, both bilaterally as well as under the trilateral mechanism to support an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process of reconciliation.
He also inquired about President Gul’s health and prayed for his full recovery.
President Zardari said both Pakistan and Turkey should create facilitative mechanism and opportunities for their private sectors in order to achieve the mutually agreed trade target of $2 billion and called for fast tracking the conclusion of Pakistan-Turkey Preferential Trade Agreement.
The president said he was glad to know that Turkish banks were opening more branches in Pakistan, adding that it was also encouraging that the two countries’ private sectors were collaborating in the energy, construction, food processing and rubber industries. During the meeting, he invited Turkish investment in key sectors such as infrastructure, housing, engineering, energy, agriculture, telecommunications and mining. Zardari said Pakistan was keenly interested in the Gul Train project and thanked the Turkish Prime Minister for his personal interest in it and stressed for collective work on generating more cargo load for this train. Commenting on issues of the Muslim world, the president said these were defining times for the Muslims as “we are facing unprecedented challenges from Afghanistan to North Africa and the entire Middle East and these unprecedented circumstances demand extraordinary vision and leadership on our part”.
The Turkish prime minister assured full support and cooperation to Pakistan in all areas and praised the sacrifices made by Pakistan in the fight against militancy and terrorism. He also assured assistance to Pakistan in its efforts in the war against terrorism. Erdogan said close cooperation at various levels between Pakistan and Turkey would further strengthen bilateral relations particularly trade and investment ties. The two leaders hoped for early implementation of bilateral agreements signed during the Turkish prime minister’s recent visit to Pakistan. Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar was also present during the meeting.