By Mumin Altas and Aydogan Kalabalik
KHARTOUM (AA) – Turkish Vice-President Fuat Oktay on Tuesday held talks with Sudanese First Vice-President Bakri Hassan Saleh in capital Khartoum.
“We will quickly begin to implement projects on which we have made agreements and set a framework, which will lay the basis for social development that will help Sudan stand on its own feet and have a say in the region, ” Oktay said after the meeting.
He went on to stress that Turkey and Sudan shared “strong ties” stemming from common historical bonds.
Oktay added that, following his earlier visit to Sudan in 2017, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had given him clear instructions to help resolve Sudan’s problems.
“We have been instructed to develop an economic model with a view to resolving all Sudan’s problems, ” he added. “If the Sudanese are suffering then we are suffering. ”
The same instructions, he noted, were also given by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.
Drawing attention to both men’s determination to improve relations, boost bilateral trade and ensure Sudan's continued development, Oktay said: “Our determination must be accompanied by technical support so our objectives can be fully realized.”
Oktay went on to point out that Sudan has significant potential in both agriculture and livestock and that Turkey hoped to contribute to unlocking this potential.
He added that the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency had already begun restoration work on Sudan’s Suakin Island in hopes of transforming the island into a major tourist attraction.
The Turkish VP also noted that both Sudan and Turkey enjoyed close cooperation in the military and defense fields and that Turkey had transferred to Sudan much of its experience and know-how in the health and education sectors.
“We must quickly establish the necessary mechanisms to ensure that Sudan's oilfields are operational, land is allocated for agriculture and stockbreeding, and trade is improved,” he said.
“We must complete this now; that's why we’re here. Should the process take too long, our citizens will have to pay for the delay in order to realize our bilateral trade goal of $10 billion. We are still lagging behind by $1 billion, ” he added.
Saleh, for his part, thanked Oktay for the visit.
Noting that both countries shared historical bonds, he said that bilateral relations had risen to a new level after President Erdogan's visit to Sudan last year.
“Our brother-country Turkey stands by our side and supports us in the international community,” he said.
“Turkey also supports us in domestic affairs, helping us with hospital and investment projects. ”
“Sudan is a rich country in terms of agriculture, stockbreeding and oil,” Saleh said. “We have benefited from Turkey's experience and know-how on these subjects.”
“We must carry out these development projects on time in order to achieve our goals, ” he added.
Oktay was accompanied on his visit by Turkish Agriculture and Forest Minister Bekir Pakdemirli, Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan, Deputy Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Mithat Cansiz, and Turkish Ambassador to Khartoum Irfan Neziroglu.
*Ali Murat Alhas contributed to this report from Ankara