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PM Shehbaz leaves for Turkiye on two-day official visit

PM Shehbaz leaves for Turkiye on two-day official visit

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday left for a two-day official visit, from November 25 to November 27, to Turkiye at the invitation of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

He will be leading a high-level delegation in the country.

According to a Foreign Office (FO) statement, the premier will “jointly inaugurate the third of the four Milgem Corvette ships for the Pakistan Navy, PNS Khaibar, at the Istanbul Shipyard”.

Prior to his departure, the premier said in a tweet that the inauguration of the third Milgem Corvette ship represented the deepening defence cooperation between the Turkiye and Pakistan.

“High-level exchanges are a defining feature of our partnership,” he stated. “Our bilateral ties have entered a new era of strategic partnership under the leadership of President Erdogan.”

The PM went on to say that the two countries were on a course to “unpack the full untapped potential of relationship”, adding that high-level exchanges were a “defining feature” of the partnership between the two countries.

The FO said during the two-day visit, PM Shehbaz will also “interact with leaders of the Turkish business community” and also meet the President of the ECO Trade and Development Bank during his stay in the country’s urban centre, Istanbul.

Afterwards, Shehbaz and Erdogan will hold wide-ranging discussions on “bilateral relations, the regional situation and other issues of common interest”, the FO said.

The FO added that the two countries “enjoy fraternal ties deeply embedded in commonalities of faith, culture, and history and underpinned by exceptional cordiality and mutual trust”.

The Milgem project — based on a joint collaboration between Turkiye and Pakistan — was signed with ASFAT inc, a Turkish state-owned Defence contractor firm in 2018, according to which the Pakistan navy would acquire four Milgem-class ships from Turkey.

Milgem vessels are 99 metres long, have a displacement capacity of 2,400 tons and have a speed of 29 nautical miles. These anti-submarine combat frigates, which can be hidden from the radar, would further enhance the defence capability of the Pakistan Navy.

According to the FO, the launching ceremony for the first Corvette for the Pakistan Navy, PNS Babur, was performed in Istanbul in August 2021 while the groundbreaking for the second ship, PNS Badr, was held in Karachi in May 2022.

“The project represents a significant milestone in the Pakistan-Turkiye strategic partnership that continues to progress on an upward trajectory,” it said.

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