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ANKARA, June 1: Pakistan and Turkey have agreed to step up efforts to boost trade and cooperation in defence industry, the leaders of the two countries said here on Wednesday.

“This visit is a turning point in our relations in terms of our desire to raise the level of cooperation between our countries,” Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said at a joint news conference with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan here on Wednesday.

The trade volume between the two countries should be increased to at least one billion dollars from the current level of $400 million, he said.

“I have invited the (Turkish) business community to invest in Pakistan,” he said. “Pakistan is open to business... (with) very attractive opportunities for investment, for trade and for Turkish contractors to participate in our infrastructure development programmes.”

Mr Erdogan said the two sides also had the potential “to take many steps” to increase cooperation in defence industry, but did not elaborate what projects they discussed. An aide to Mr Erdogan said later that the two countries were considering joint production of tanks, armoured personnel carriers and patrol boats, while Turkish company Aselsan was willing to sell the Pakistani army electronic warfare equipment.

Both leaders expressed identity of views on regional and global issues and Mr Erdogan called for early resolution of the Kashmir dispute. The two prime ministers said they discussed the entire gambit of bilateral relations and regional and international issues, including Kashmir, Afghanistan, Iran, the Middle East and the proposed UN reforms.

“We believe that all approaches made by Pakistan for peaceful resolution of Kashmir are very positive and we appreciated them,” the Turkish prime minister said.

“Turkey fully supports Pakistan on Kashmir. This problem should be tackled as soon as possible. There should be no more bloodshed, no more loss of life.” He called for a fair and just resolution of the dispute.

Mr Aziz said Pakistan was engaged in a composite dialogue process with India to resolve all issues, including Jammu and Kashmir in line with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people.

Mr Aziz also lent support to the Turkish stand on the divided island of Cyprus.

“Whatever steps Turkey has outlined and deems necessary on northern Cyprus, we have said that we support them without any reservations,” Mr Aziz said. “We are 100 per cent with Turkey on this issue.”

The Turkish prime minister appreciated Pakistan’s support on the issue of Northern Cyprus, saying the two countries moved hand in hand on the issue. The two leaders held a one-to-one meeting for about 40 minutes before they headed their delegations at formal talks.

They also witnessed signing of an agreement on cooperation in science and technology by Law Minister Wasi Zafar and Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul.

Prime Minister Aziz described the talks as very fruitful and said the two sides expressed their common position on regional and global issues and there was an “identity of views on all major issues discussed during the one-to-one meeting and the delegation-level talks”.

Pakistan, he added, valued its relations with Turkey and its friendship was a source of strength.

The prime minister also appreciated Turkey’s contribution for the stability of Afghanistan.

The two prime ministers discussed the OIC and agreed on the need for reinvigorating and re-positioning the 57-member body so that its voice was understood and heard in the world.

The Turkish prime minister said there was a political will on both sides to take their existing relations to new heights. —Agencies