Ankara, Kabul ink strategic cooperation pact
Presidents Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced signing the pact at a joint news conference after formal talks at the Presidential Palace in Kabul.
Both leaders told reporters the accord envisaged greater Turkish investment in Afghanistan’s vast mining sector. The two sides will also cooperate in areas of defence, agriculture, health, reconstruction and culture.
Erdogan promised his country would focus on long-term fundamental development projects in Afghanistan in the fields of mining, transportation and training of government personnel.
He added Turkish soldiers, operating within the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) framework in, had been maintaining security around the capital and training their Afghan partners.
For his part, Ahmadzai said his administration had asked Turkey for the supply of weapons to Afghan forces. He believed Istanbul being a major actor could use its enormous influence for dispute resolution in the region.
“Today, we signed a long-term strategic cooperation pact, under which the two nations will set up ministerial-level commissions… Presidents of the two countries will meet once a year,” he said, lauding Turkish military assistance.
In response to a query, the visiting dignitary said that trilateral consultations among Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey had been a success. Pakistan’s cooperation played a key role in facilitating the recent presidential election, he insisted.
"The Afghans voted enthusiastically to form an administration of their choice for the first time. The people's free will is manifested," he said, praising Ghani's contribution to the growth democracy in the war-torn country.
At the bilateral talks, Ahmadzai said, they discussed counter-terrorism measures. He added terrorism was a shared problem whose resolution needed a comprehensive regional strategy.
Ghani said his country would follow the template of reforms introduced in Turkey under Erdogan’s leadership. They also conferred on the resumption of trilateral talks, the Istanbul Process and linking Afghanistan with Turkey through Turkmenistan.
In the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) framework, Turkey will support the construction of a rail link and expand aviation ties. It will also equip the Aliabad Hospital besides establishing the Jalaluddin Balkhi University in Kabul.
“We will continue with the Istanbul Process, sponsored by Turkey,” he observed, saying that Pakistan could play a vital role in preventing terrorists’ infiltration into Afghanistan.
Erdogan, the first Turkish president to visit Afghanistan in 56 years, arrived in Kabul earlier in the day for talks with Ahmadzai and other high-ranking officials. He inaugurated a road constructed in Kabul with the financial support of Turkey.
He met Ghani, his first vice president Abdul Rashid Dostum, and Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah. He was accorded a warm welcome at the Presidential Palace with a military ceremony. He also visited Turkish troops based in Wardak.
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