Red carpet rolled out for Erdogan as he arrives on two-day visit

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STAFF REPORT

ISLAMABAD

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 Erdogan as they disembarked from the airplane at the Nur Khan Airbase.

In what has now become a tradition for special foreign guests, Prime Minister Imran personally drove President Erdogan and the Turkish fi rst lady from the airport to Prime Minister House. A guard of honour was presented to the Turkish president by smartly turned-out personnel of the armed forces. Senior cabinet members and government offi cials welcomed the president at Prime Minister House. In the evening, President Erdogan and First Lady Emine arrived at the Aiwan-i-Sadr.

They were received by President Arif Alvi. The two presidents hold a meeting which was followed by dinner. Posters welcoming the Turkish president were put up in the capital ahead of his arrival with strict security in place. The Foreign Offi ce had announced that the Turkish president would visit Pakistan from Feb 13 to 14 for underscoring “traditional solidarity and affi nity” between the two countries and further “deepening and broadening of the fl ourishing Pakistan-Turkey strategic partnership”.

Erdogan, who is accompanied on the trip by his cabinet members, senior government offi cials and leading Turkish business fi gures, 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 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]”. 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.