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Pakistan, Turkey agree to enhance counter-terrorism cooperation

Pakistan, Turkey agree to enhance counter-terrorism cooperation

ISLAMABAD: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met in Islamabad Saturday and agreed to enhance counter-terrorism cooperation aimed at fighting the possible threat from militant group Islamic State and other such organisations.

The two leaders also discussed the enhancement of bilateral relations, besides global and international issues of mutual interest.

According to Radio Pakistan, PM Nawaz said there are vast opportunities to expand trade ties between Pakistan and Turkey, and also expressed satisfaction over progress in promoting defence ties between the two countries.

Erdogan landed in Islamabad along with his wife Saturday evening for a brief stopover on his way back from Indonesia. He was received by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Begum Kulsoom Nawaz at the Nur Khan base.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, federal ministers Ishaq Dar and Khawaja Asif, Advisor on National Security Sartaj Aziz and Special Assistant to the PM Tariq Fatemi were also present at the airport.

A contingent of Pakistan Air Force presented Erdogan with an honourary salute on his first visit to Pakistan since assuming the office of Turkey's president.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan had earlier visited Lahore and Islamabad in December 2013 as the prime minister of the Republic of Turkey. Today's meeting marks the seventh time Erdogan has visited Pakistan in the last decade, signifying substantial growth and strengthening of relations under his government.

PM Nawaz also hosted a dinner in honour of the visiting dignitary.

Turkey has very recently upped the momentum of its fight against IS and Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) — two groups who are themselves bitterly opposed — after a week of deadly violence in Turkey the authorities blamed on the organisations.

Read: Turkey carries out two-pronged strikes against IS in Syria, Kurds in Iraq.

The recent raids against IS marked a major shift in policy towards the group by key Nato member Turkey, which has faced severe criticism from its Western allies for not doing enough to combat the jihadists.

The US and Turkey also recently agreed to work together to drive fighters of the self-styled Islamic State from northern Syria with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu saying its military could “change the balance” in the region.

The potentially game-changing accord between the US and Turkey aims to "establish an ISIL-free zone and ensure greater security and stability along Turkey’s border with Syria,” said a US official last week.

Analysts and experts believe the upsurge in Turkey's activity against IS is a consequence of the deadly suicide bombing in the town of Suruc on the Syrian border, which killed at least 30 civilians.

Editorial: Turkey's shift.

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