Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Islamabad on Thursday on a two-day trip aimed at strengthening bilateral strategic partnership and economic ties.
Prime Minister Imran Khan welcomed the Turkish president and his wife Emine Erdoğan as they stepped down the airplane at the Noor Khan Airbase.
In what has now become a tradition for special foreign guests, Prime Minister Imran personally drove President Erdogan and the Turkish first lady from the airport.
Posters welcoming the Turkish president were put up in the capital ahead of his arrival with strict security in place.
The Foreign Office had announced that the Turkish president would visit Pakistan from Feb 13 to 14 for underscoring “traditional solidarity and affinity” between the two countries and further “deepening and broadening of the flourishing Pakistan-Turkey strategic partnership”.
Erdogan, who is accompanied on the trip by his cabinet members, senior government officials, leading Turkish business figures, would co-chair with Prime Minister Imran the 6th session of the Pakistan-Turkey High Level Strategic Cooperation Council (HLSCC), address a joint session of parliament on Friday for the record fourth time and speak at the Pakistan-Turkey Business and Investment Forum.
He will also meet President Arif Alvi during the trip.
Talking to Anadolu Agency, Turkish Ambassador to Pakistan Mustafa Yurdakul said that President Erdogan’s visit to Islamabad is a historic event and “a major step towards exemplary bilateral ties between the two countries”.
Prime Minister Imran is expected to invite Turkey to join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). He had in an interview with a Turkish newswire said: “We hope to involve them in using CPEC for further connectivity, and we hope to involve Turkey in this [CPEC]”.
According to Radio Pakistan, the Turkish ambassador said CPEC is nearly completed and that Turkey is interested in becoming a part of special economic zones which will be established under the project.
The prime minister wants Turkish businesses to invest in Pakistan’s mining sector and engage in technology transfer projects.
About the proposals for promoting economic ties, the FO said: “Both sides place a strong emphasis on forging a robust economic relationship.”
“Pakistan and Turkey have a unique and abiding relationship characterised by mutual support and exceptional mutual trust and understanding. The two brotherly countries have always been each other’s steadfast partners. Turkey supports the cause of self-determination for the people of Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir. Pakistan stands by Turkey on the question of Cyprus,” the FO said.
Turkey and Pakistan are expected to sign a number of important agreements/memorandums of understanding to formalise some of the understandings that would be reached during the HLSCC meeting.
The HLSCC is the highest-level decision-making forum that provides strategic direction to the ties. There are seven joint working groups under the HLSCC working on political coordination, trade and investment, energy, banking and finance, transport and communications, culture and tourism, and education.
HLSCC meetings are held alternatively in Islamabad and Ankara.