ADDS REMARKS FROM ERDOGAN, DETAILS </p> <p>By Diyar Guldogan </p> <p>
ANKARA (AA) – Turkey is determined to further enhance relations with Venezuela, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday.
"We resolve to preserve the momentum we have achieved over the past two years and to enhance our relations further," Erdogan said at a news conference alongside his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro in the capital Caracas.
Erdogan reiterated that he is the first Turkish president to visit Venezuela.
"We hope that high-level visits between [officials of] the two countries will increasingly continue," he added.
Underscoring that bilateral trade between Turkey and Venezuela had jumped to over US$1 billion in 2018, a more than sixfold increase over the previous year, Erdogan cited cooperation in various fields, including infrastructure, defense and energy.
He also said Turkey plans to build a mosque in Caracas at Venezuela's request.
The president also said Venezuela had handed over two schools affiliated with the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) — the terrorist group behind the 2016 defeated coup in Turkey — to a Turkish education body.
Erdogan repeated his condemnation of the attempt on Maduro’s life on Aug. 4, calling it a "very serious betrayal and dishonor".
Maduro also conferred the country’s highest distinction, the Order of the Liberator, on Erdogan, who said it was a symbol of the friendship between Ankara and Caracas.
Ten treaties were signed between the two countries, including on economic relations, defense industry cooperation and academia.