President Asif Ali Zardari and his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul on Wednesday 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.
Addressing a joint press conference after a meeting between the two leaders and delegation level talks here at Cankaya Presidential Palace, President Zardari said that his visit would add a new chapter of cooperation and engagement between the two countries.
During the meeting, 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 Ahmed Mukhtar, Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar and Chairman of Board of Investment Saleem Mandviwala.
The President was on his first bilateral visit to Turkey and his earlier five visits to the country were to attend trilateral summits on Afghanistan and international conferences.
The two leaders said that the talks focused on making operational Islamabad-Istanbul-Tehran freight train. President Gul said that the project would provide a trade route from Islamabad to European countries with goods taking about 11 days to reach Turkish markets.
He said that 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.
The train is an important component of efforts of both the countries to build trade and energy corridors connecting South Asia and Central Asia, he said.
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 expressed the resolve to raise their unique brotherly ties to pursue common strategic goals for achieving sustainable political and social stability and economic advancement.
They 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 two billion dollars by 2012.
President Zardari termed the decision by the Supreme Court to accept a reference filed by him to revisit the judicial murder of PPP founder Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as “landmark” and reflective of “political and democratic growth.”
The government wanted to rectify a historical fault, he said adding, “We do not want revenge in history … we just want that a historical wrong is corrected. If in future someone commits a similar wrong, then he would know that the history will never forgive him.”
To a question the President said Pakistan’s views on Afghanistan were clear and it believed success of Afghan-led reconciliation process was vital for the regional peace and stability.
He said Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkey were coordinating at the political, military and intelligence levels to find a solution that was acceptable to the people of Afghanistan.
“War is defeat of the civilized mindset,” he said, adding that Pakistan would support the Afghan government and people in maintaining peace and stability.
To a question, President Gul said recently the armed forces of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkey conducted joint military exercises. Turkey many times had the ISAF command in Afghanistan, it contributed 2000 troops for the country and then made significant contributions in improving health and educational facilities in Afghanistan, he said.
“But military aid is not enough. We have to win hearts in
Afghanistan.” he said adding, “2011 is a critical year as foreign forces will be retreating from Afghanistan, whose army and police will take control of security. Our ultimate goal is to ensure peace and security in Afghanistan through our collective efforts.”
To a question about efforts to end energy shortages in
Pakistan, President Gul said he himself contacted Turkish energy companies who wer willing to invest in projects for power generation in Pakistan through coal and wind.
Gul said that Turkey has a customs union with Europe and it can be of help to Pakistan for its exports to European nations. Turkey is a hub for flights to all parts of Europe and being at the crossroads of both Europe and Asia, Turkey will extend benefits to Pakistan in gaining economic mileage, he added.
President Zardari expressed gratitude to the people and the government of Turkey for always standing by Pakistan’s side and recalled the outflowing of help and assistance in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake and floods in Pakistan.
He said a visit to Turkey was just like visiting home and the two countries were bound by strong bonds of deep friendship, similarity of views and commonality of interests.
Earlier on his arrival at the Presidential Palace, President Zardari and his delegation were warmly received by President Abdullah Gul.
A smartly turned out contingent of Turkish armed forces presented guard of honour to the visiting dignitary and national anthems of the two countries were played amid boom of a 21-gun salute.
President Zardari inspected the guard of honour and afterwards he was introduced to the members of the Turkish cabinet.