Posted by: “ALI BENLIOGLU” [email protected]
Sun Feb 1, 2009 2:45 pm (PST)
GHAZANFAR ALI KHAN / ARAB NEWS
RIYADH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah will hold talks with Turkish President Abdullah Gul here tomorrow in a renewed bid to boost bilateral ties and exert more efforts to pressure Israel and the international community to resolve the crisis and restore peace in the Middle East.
“The Turkish president, who will be accompanied by a 140-member delegation, will begin a four-day official visit to the Kingdom on Tuesday,” said Turkish Ambassador Naci Koru, here yesterday.
The visit of Gul on the invitation of King Abdullah is very important keeping in view the fact that Turkey can play an influential role in eliminating divisions among the Palestinians, a move strongly supported by King Abdullah himself. Koru said the two leaders would discuss the whole gamut of bilateral, regional and international issues, including Gaza,
Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan in their talks.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was given a hero’s welcome recently on his return to Istanbul after accusing Israel of “knowing very well how to kill” during a heated debate at the World Economic Forum. Moreover, Riyadh and Ankara have also renewed their commitments to boost bilateral ties, which have been progressively growing following the historic visit of King Abdullah to that country in 2006.
Asked about any accord to be inked by the Kingdom and Turkey during the president’s visit, Koru said that Gul would also witness the signing of two major agreements. The accords include an agreement in maritime transport sector and another in the field of youth and sports. He said that Gul’s itinerary, which will take him to Riyadh and Jeddah, would be intense because of several official-level meetings and visits to Saudi academic institutions.
The ambassador said that the Turkish president would also visit the Riyadhbased King Saud University, the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) and a military center near Al-Kharj, some 45 km south of Riyadh.
He said that the Turkish president would address members of the Turkish community in Riyadh on Wednesday. He will visit the headquarters of the Organization of Islamic Conference on Feb. 5, the day he will arrive in Jeddah. The diplomat said that Riyadh and
Ankara had forged closer ties on all fronts. The two-way trade exceeds $5 billion annually, representing a growth of 30 percent. Also, the tourism traffic has reported a massive increase from 22,000 Saudis visiting Turkey in 2001 to over 70,000 in 2008.
Turkish Air is currently operating 28 flights a week from Saudi Arabia, compared to only a few flights per week four years back.
This is in addition to the flights operated by Saudia and other Gulf carriers. In the field of agriculture, Riyadh and Ankara have mapped out a new strategy, which is now facilitating joint agriculture projects. Several Saudi and Turkish companies have come forward with proposals for joint projects, which need to be OK’d by regulatory authorities. In fact, the
recent visit of Saudi Minister of Commerce and Industry Abdullah bin Zainal Alireza
to Turkey cleared the decks for agriculture cooperation.