Seeking to strengthen bilateral relations, promote trade, investment and defence cooperation, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived on Wednesday on a two-day visit. He was accompanied by his wife Emine and a high-level delegation. They were received by the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif along with his cabinet members and senior officials at the Nur Khan Airbase, reports the Dawn.
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First Lady Kulsoom Nawaz, the prime minister’s daughter Maryam Nawaz and his younger brother Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif were also present at the airbase. This visit by Erdogan comes four months after a botched coup in Turkey. Following the coup the Turkish President reportedly suspended, dismissed or detained at least 110,000 people, including soldiers, judges and teachers.
Ahead of Erdogan’s visit, Islamabad ordered the Turkish staff in schools and colleges to leave the country by November 20 as they are allegedly run by the US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen’s network, which Turkey holds responsible for the recent military coup. Gulen was accused of instigating the coup by the Turkish President and had asked Pakistan to take action against the cleric’s network in the country.
Erdogan thanked Pakistan in his private messages for their support during the coup. The Turkish President has met his Pakistan counterpart Mamnoon Hussain in which the latter proposed a long-term defence cooperation agreement. Erdogan agreed to the idea, according to a statement from the presidency.
The two leaders also agreed to have close coordination on regional matters, including Afghanistan and Kashmir. Hussain thanked Erdogan for Ankara’s support for Pakistan’s bid to acquire membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
President Erdogan will address a joint session of the parliament this evening. It will be the third time, he will be doing so. He will visit Lahore to attend Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s state banquet in his honour at the 16th-century Shahi Qila (Lahore Royal Fort). A meeting of the Pak-Turkey Joint Business Forum will also be held in Lahore.