RAWALPINDI, Oct 23: The second meeting of the Pakistan-Turkey Military Dialogue Group concluded here on Thursday with the two sides agreeing to embark on joint ventures in defence production.

According to a statement issued here by the ministry of defence, the two sides agreed to this after two days of exhaustive deliberations “held in a cordial and frank atmosphere.”

The concluding session was co-chaired by Gen Ilker Basbug, Deputy Chief of the Turkish General Staff and Lt-Gen Hamid Nawaz Khan, the defence secretary.

Both said that the defence relations between the two brotherly countries were progressing well, and that they could once again see “tangible evidence” of this in the form of practical action being undertaken on both sides.

They observed that the military dialogue group had been significantly successful in identifying “the thrust lines” for future cooperation in the fields of defence and technology, which included a spirit of cooperation while avoiding competition, capitalizing on each other’s area of strength and benefiting from the removal of sanctions on Pakistan for enhancing cooperation without reservations.

It was also agreed at the meeting to carry forward the work on specific items into the working groups who will hold mid-term review meetings for speedy implementation of the decisions.

The offices of the military attaches in both the countries would be actively involved in this connection to monitor the progress and would be provided access to the focal points of the working groups.

The two signed the minutes of the meeting on behalf of their respective governments. The next meeting of the group will be held in Ankara in 2004.

Meanwhile Gen Ilker Basbug called on Rao Sikandar Iqbal, the defence minister, and discussed with him matters relating to defence cooperation and bilateral affairs.

The minister spoke of the “exemplary friendship” between the two countries and said it had withstood the test of time.

This relationship, he said, was characterized by shared perception on major global and regional issues as well as regular exchange of high-level visits.

The Turkish general apprised the minister of the ongoing defence cooperation between Pakistan and Turkey as well as the advancements made by Turkey in the production of defence equipment.

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