UPDATES WITH CAVUSOGLU’S MEETING WITH PAKISTAN’S ARMY CHIEF
By Merve Aydogan and Islamuddin Sajid
ANKARA / ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AA) – President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will discuss the Syrian crisis with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Monday, the Turkish foreign minister said Friday.
"Turkey is open to cooperation with everyone on efforts to fight terror groups in Syria," said Mevlut Cavusoglu at a joint news conference in Islamabad with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
Recalling Turkey's efforts to find a political solution to the ongoing Syrian crisis, he said the efforts to reach a cease-fire in Idlib continue.
"We will continue our efforts with Iran and Russia… We will continue our efforts in international platforms as well. We have received tremendous support from many countries as well as United Nations and other organizations. Therefore, we should continue our efforts to bring peace and stability to the region," he added.
Cavusoglu arrived in Islamabad on Thursday on an official visit upon the invitation of the Pakistani foreign minister. He was received by Pakistani President Arif Alvi, and Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The Turkish minister praised "strong" bilateral relations between Turkey and Pakistan, expressing willingness to further enhance cooperation in all areas.
"We will devote more efforts to further enhance our solidarity, brotherhood, relations, and cooperation with Pakistan," he said.
The two countries agreed to convene the 6th high level joint working group meeting soon in Islamabad and restart negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries.
Qureshi said the two sides have decided to enhance bilateral and economic relations.
"Our relations are very strong which are based on a strong historic, cultural and regional background and now we would strengthen these relations further," Qureshi said.
Both side also discussed the current trade volume and termed it unsatisfactory. The trade volume between Turkey and Pakistan was around $650 million by the end of 2017.
"The current trade volume is not satisfactory and we have decided to remove all hurdles in way of enhancing the trade between both countries," Qureshi said.
He thanked Turkey for supporting his country on different international forums especially at the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meeting in February this year in Paris, where the U.S. and the U.K. moved to put Pakistan back on a list of countries which have failed to stem terror financing.
"Today I have an opportunity to say: 'thank you very much,' to my Turkish counterpart who helped and support us in the FATF meeting," Qureshi said.
During the delegation level meeting, Qureshi also briefed Cavusoglu about his upcoming visit to Afghanistan.
"I have briefed the Turkish foreign minister regarding my expected visit to Kabul and we agreed to play our role to bring peace in Afghanistan," he said.
– Defense cooperation
Later, Cavusoglu met Pakistan's military chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa at army headquarters in garrison city of Rawalpindi.
Focus of the discussion remained on Pak-Turkey relations, regional security including evolving situation in the Middle East, management of defense and security cooperation between both the countries, said a statement by the military.
The Turkish Minister acknowledged and appreciated Pakistan’s contributions for conflict prevention in the region and also pledged to keep working for better relations between the two brotherly countries, the statement added.
*Aamir Latif in Karachi contributed to this story.