ISLAMABAD – Pakistan and Turkey on Tuesday pledged to boost cooperation in energy, trade, urban development, infrastructure and housing sectors besides inking agreement to operationalise the Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul ECO Container Train.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, after holding an exclusive meeting, followed by delegation level talks here at the PM House, termed it a “comprehensive review” of bilateral relations.
“We have just concluded a comprehensive review of our bilateral relations as well as regional and international issues of mutual concern. Our discussions were marked by unanimity of views on all issues,” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said.
He said consistent with the shared vision to strengthen economic ties, the two countries have also decided to conclude a Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA), in the first three months of 2014. Prime Minister Sharif said economic frameworks like the PTA, would significantly contribute towards trade facilitation.
The Turkish Prime Minister left for his country after a two-day visit, along with a large business delegation to expand the multifaceted ties with Pakistan.
The two sides also agreed to provide a dynamic future-oriented outlook to their strategic relationship.
Prime Minister Erdogan said Turkey wanted expanded bilateral ties with Pakistan in all fields including political, military, economic, trade and culture. He also appreciated that his Pakistani counterpart made Turkey the second stop, soon after he assumed his office.
He expressed the hope that the PTA between the two countries will go a long way in further expanding their economic ties.
Erdogan said the level of trade between the two countries did not match the existing strong relations and there was a need to take steps to enhance it significantly.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the two sides have also signed a number of MoUs including the operationalization of the Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul ECO Container Train.
Nawaz Sharif said regular operations of the train would not only strengthen connectivity but it also had the potential to harness greater economic integration between the region and beyond.
“I am confident that our interactions would further intensify cooperative partnership between the two countries”, he added.
Prime Minister Erdogan also announced opening of a Turkish Cultural Centre in Lahore. He said both the sides have the political will to strengthen their cooperation.
He said the two sides also discussed expansion of communication linkages between the two countries, through land, air and sea.
Nawaz Sharif said Pakistan and Turkey enjoyed a special relationship, bound by fraternal ties of religion, history and culture. Prime Minister Erdogan’s visit to Pakistan has reinforced these ties, he added.
“As two functioning democracies, our perspectives are marked by a common outlook and shared objectives,” said Nawaz Sharif.
The two leaders said they discussed regional situation and international issues of mutual interest.
Prime Minister Sharif said the meeting comes at a time when there was strife and instability in the region. “As two pillars of strength, Pakistan and Turkey stand united in our joint endeavour to promote peace and stability in the region,” he said.
Prime Minister Sharif recalled his recent “very successful and result-oriented” visit to Turkey in September 2013, to chair with Prime Minister Erdogan, the 3rd meeting of the High Level Cooperation Council, which was aptly, renamed the High Level Strategic Cooperation Council (HLSCC).
Nawaz Sharif termed the current visit of Erdogan another milestone in the relationship.
He said the strong business delegation, accompanying Erdogan, was an affirmation of the confidence that Turkish companies have in business opportunities in Pakistan.
“I am confident that the representative business forum that I, and Prime Minister Erdogan addressed in Lahore yesterday, would build on the synergies and strengths of our respective business communities.”
He also recalled his address to an equally well-attended business forum in Istanbul during his visit to Turkey.
Earlier, the two sides signed two MoUs for cooperation in Disaster Management and Sports. Under the MoU on Disaster Management, Turkey will provide technology, expertise and training to tackle disasters and their aftereffects.
The MoU was signed by Chairman National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Maj Gen (Retd) Mohammad Saeed Aleem and Turkish Ambassador to Pakistan Babar Girgin.
The MoU on Sports Cooperation was signed by Minister for Inter Provincial Coordination and Sports Riaz Hussain Pirzada and Turkish Minister for Transport Maritime Affairs and Communication Binali Yildirim.