Pakistan, Turkey for boost in anti-terror cooperation

| Nawaz stresses need to intensify joint efforts to combat Islamophobia | Wants peace with India | 10 accords signed

ANKARA - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Turkish counterpart Binali Y?ld?r?m yesterday declared Pak-Turkish relations as historic, expressing their resolve to strengthen this close cooperation for the benefit of the two peoples.

Addressing a joint press conference, the Turkish prime minister said Pakistan’s support to his government and the democracy-loving people of his country was very well received and appreciated. This gesture of Pakistan’s leadership was a solid proof that the two countries were linked with the democratic values and that no one would be allowed to disrupt people’s rule.

Prime Minister Binali Y?ld?r?m thanked his Pakistani counterpart for extending full support to President Erdogan in his fight against the perpetrators of July 2016 military coup to dislodge democracy in Turkey.

Turkish Premier Yildirim expressed these sentiments following the fifth High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council meeting at Cankaya Palace in the capital here Thursday.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Turkish counterpart co-chaired the 5th High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council meeting alongside Yildirim.

The Turkish premier highlighted the nearly 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Pakistan, saying both the countries had always supported each other in good and hard times.

Yildirim said all the people, government and parliament of Pakistan stood by Turkish people following the failed coup. “We know Pakistan was showing a meticulous approach to wipe out this terror group which poses a national security threat and a threat to the public order in our country as well,” he said. He said last year’s coup attempt against Turkey’s democratically-elected government was planned by the enemies of democracy.

He also offered condolences to Pakistanis over the spate of recent deadly terror attacks, describing them as the plague of our era. He particularly mentioned the recent terrorist activities and today’s Lahore blast.

Sharif thanked Turkey for its hospitality. He said Turkey was like his second home. “Our common bonds of faith, culture and history continue to deepen and nurture this relationship,” he said.

“Turkey’s enemies are Pakistan’s enemies,” Sharif said, adding his country would continue its efforts against all such elements that were out to harm democracy in Turkey. He added Pakistan also supports Turkey’s fight against other terrorist groups like Tehreek-e-Taliban and Daesh.

As part of his three-day visit, Nawaz Sharif held a dinner meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on regional and bilateral relations last evening, during which the two leaders exchanged views on bilateral, international and regional issues.

Yildirim said he and Sharif had given necessary instructions to their ministers for signing the free trade agreement between the two countries within 2017.

He noted the sixth Strategic Cooperation Council meeting would be held in Pakistan in 2018, while President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would also be in the country next month. The High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council between the two sides was established during Erdogan’s visit to Pakistan in 2009.

Following the latest meeting in Ankara, both sides signed agreements and memoranda of understanding in the fields of hydro carbons, environment, forestry, news agency cooperation and exchange of financial intelligence and armed forces personnel.

The council meetings also resulted in six joint working groups in energy, finance, banking, transport and communications, culture and tourism and education fields. A cooperation agreement between Anadolu Agency and Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) was also signed.

Nawaz and his Turkish counterpart Binali Yildrim said both Pakistan and Turkey were facing the threat of terrorism and expressed the commitment for close cooperation to fight threats to the region’s peace.

The two prime ministers expressed resolve to take strict action against terrorism and extremism in their countries. Nawaz expressed the confidence that Turkish leadership would effectively eliminate all threats of terrorism and would march to peace and prosperity under the guidance of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

He said Pakistan was currently facing the challenge of terrorism and mentioned the recent terror attack at the Sufi shrine which was a symbol of peace. He said efforts would continue against terrorism in all its forms.

Turkish Prime Minister Yildrim said Turkey was contributing to regional stability despite being a target to terrorism. He suggested Pakistan and Turkey should have the highest level of cooperation in counterterrorism.

The Turkish prime minister said Pakistan had a key role in the region and was making progress in many areas despite confronting a number of challenges. He said Turkey would continue to step up its cooperation with Pakistan which had a very bright future.

He said the Turkish nation’s stance stood mightier than the roaring tanks and guns and their sacrifice would be remembered. Calling the Turkish prime minister his brother, Nawaz said they together held a very productive session of the High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council (HLSCC), with focus on joint commitment to stronger partnership.

He hoped the agreements and memoranda of understanding signed today would further contribute to strengthening relations between Pakistan and Turkey.

Nawaz lauded the Turkish leadership for their support on the Kashmir issue and said Pakistan stood by Turkey on the issue of Cyprus.

He also thanked Turkey for its principled position on strategic stability in South Asia and said that Pakistan was committed to peaceful neighbourhood, including having friendly relations with India.

Nawaz stressed the need to intensify joint efforts to combat Islamophobia. “Pakistan and Turkey were committed to global peace and together we can work for peace to make the world a better place."

He said the coup attempt was launched by Fethullah Gulen’s terrorist organization and termed it a threat to the world peace.

The Turkish prime minister said Turkey was ready to play its share in any way possible to improve relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan. He said Turkey wanted Pakistan and Afghanistan to have good neighbourly relations that would be helpful in counter-terrorism efforts.

Pakistan and Turkey signed 10 accords of cooperation in diverse areas, including hydrocarbon and solar energy as well as financial intelligence related to terrorism financing.

PM Nawaz Sharif and his Turkish counterpart witnessed the signing ceremony and also inked a joint statement after co-chairing the fifth meeting of High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council.

Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir, PM's Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi and senior government officials along with their Turkish counterparts attended the meeting.