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Pak-Turkey friendship unparalleled: Zardari

14 April, 2011

ANKARA: President Asif Ali Zardari exchanging views with Turkish President Abdullah Gul at the Çankaya Presidential Palace in Ankara. APP
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ANKARA: President Asif Ali Zardari said Pakistan and Turkey enjoy special relations and a unique friendship, which has no parallel and is unmatched.

Speaking at a banquet hosted in his honour by Turkish President Abdullah Gul here on Wednesday, President Asif Ali Zardari said: “Ours is a special bond, which has no parallel. It is a unique friendship which is unmatched. Physically we may live thousands of miles apart but our hearts beat together,” President Zardari said.

The President said the colours of Pakistan and Turkish flags may be different, but the symbols of the crescent and the star are the same.

“From Ankara to Islamabad, from Konya to Multan and from Kayseri to Larkana, we are connected with a common bond of love and brotherhood. Indeed we are One Nation living in Two States”, he remarked.

The President said the people of Pakistan and Turkey have stood shoulder to shoulder since their birth, adding: “We rejoice on our achievements and we feel the pain when the other suffers.”

“Today, we remain united for a better tomorrow”, he added.

The President termed his detailed discussions with President Gul as “useful” and said: “We have agreed to give a strategic direction to our economic relations.”

The President said Turkey has been a cradle of civilisation, learning and innovative thinking, adding, throughout history, it has been a seat of great empires and today, it stands tall in the comity of nations.”

He congratulated President Gul and Prime Minister Erdogan for their bold leadership to make Turkey a shining example for others.

“We in Pakistan admire you and are proud of your achievements,” he added.

The President referred to and termed the events of the past few weeks in North Africa, Middle East and the Gulf as “a cause of great concern” and said: “They call for our close attention.”

“We have come at a crossroads of history. We are witnessing a profound change in the heartland of the Muslim world,” he said and recalled that his wife Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir had once said: “Countries descend into darkness when pluralism is disrupted, when diversity is suppressed and when one man directs the destiny of millions.”

The President said, “The time has come for reflection and introspection. The well-being of our people should be our foremost priority. The future of our people should be shaped by their will and aspirations.”

He congratulated Turkey for taking a leadership and a principled role in these challenging times.

The President said like Turkey, Pakistan wants stability and peace in the region. “Peace and stability that is based on respect for the unity, territorial integrity and sovereignty of these states.”

He said in Pakistan, the government is mindful of its responsibilities to the people and the nation.

“Today we are confronted with multiple challenges. These are challenges of terrorism, extremism, flood disaster and energy shortages, but the democratically elected government is determined to turn these challenges into opportunities.î

The President said the government of Pakistan desires peace, stability and prosperity in our region. “We have opened a new chapter of positive engagement with Afghanistan. It is an engagement that is based on mutual trust and confidence,” he added.

“We have also embarked on a purposeful dialogue with India. We want to have a dialogue that is aimed at resolving all our outstanding issues,” he mentioned.

The President also thanked President Gul for honouring him with the prestigious “Devlet Nishan” and said: “It is an honour and a symbol of exemplary ties between Pakistan and Turkey.”

“Turkey has a very special place in my heart. I have been coming here for many years now. I have fond memories of my earlier visits,” the President said and especially recalled his visits with his late wife Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.

“Each time I come to Turkey, I am reminded of the special nature of our relations,” he added.

In response to a question at a joint press conference, President Abdullah Gul and President Asif Ali Zardari made the pledges to support for initiatives to stabilise conflict-torn Afghanistan, including efforts for dialogue with the Taliban. They said: ì2011 is a very critical year for Afghanistan, as the foreign troops will begin to withdraw. We are using all our capabilities to secure Afghanistan’s unity and integrity.”

“We are doing this in cooperation with Afghan President (Hamid) Karzai and all Afghan authorities... We will be part of any activity (aimed at) making further contributions to secure durable peace,” he said.

Gul would not comment directly on the possible opening of a Taliban office in Turkey.

Zardari said: ìPakistan believes in a peaceful transition and dialogue in Afghanistan. We will be facilitators to any format that leads to peace... Whatever needs to be done, Pakistan will be playing a positive role and hoping to facilitate the transition and dialogue.”

Earlier in their meeting President Asif Ali Zardari and Turkish President Abdullah Gul resolved to continue working hand in hand to exploit the vast potential in industrial, energy, communication and infrastructure sectors of their countries to create vibrantly growing economies.

In the joint press conference after the meeting the two leaders and delegation level talks here at Presidential Palace, President Zardari said his visit would add a new chapter of cooperation and engagement between the two countries.

The two leaders held detailed discussions on bilateral matters and regional and international issues of mutual interest.

President Zardari was assisted in the talks by Defence Minister Ahmad Mukhtar, Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar and Chairman Board of Investment Saleem Mandviwala.

The two leaders said the talks focused on making operational Islamabad-Istanbul-Tehran freight train. President Gul said the project would provide a trade route from Islamabad to European countries with goods taking about 11 days to reach Turkish markets.

He said the railway track already existed but it needed to be upgraded and both the countries agreed to encourage private sectors to generate funds for the project.

President Zardari said that Pakistan attached great importance to its relations with Turkey, which was the only Islamic country of the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) alliance and was also a member of the G-20, the economic grouping of the 20 biggest economies of the world.

During the talks the two leaders discussed prospects of various projects relating to infrastructure development, banking, investment, energy and trade

and talked about ways to increase frequency of cultural and parliamentary exchanges, travel and tourism and people-to-people contacts.

President Zardari apprised President Gul of his government’s efforts to rid Pakistan of the threat of terrorism and address the root causes of poverty and social deprivation, which create conditions for extremism.

President Zardari informed his Turkish counterpart of the policies that make Pakistan an attractive place for investment for the Turkish companies, which are already active in the country on numerous important projects.

Pakistan has a policy of establishing Special Economic Zones where investors will get incentives and it also allows remitting of capital and profits gained by foreign investors to their home countries, he said.

Agreeing that Turkish construction, engineering and energy companies have the financial strength and capacity to undertake mega projects, the leaders resolved that their governments would extend all support to the private sector in these sectors.

The two Presidents expressed confidence that their mutual efforts would help them in meeting the target of raising their bilateral trade volume to $2 billion by 2012.

End.

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