Turkiye aims to strengthen its relations with Asian countries and considers Sri Lanka as “an extremely valuable and important ally”, the Turkish foreign minister said on Friday.

Speaking at a joint press conference with his Sri Lankan counterpart in the capital Colombo, Mevlut Cavusoglu underlined the importance of the Asia Anew initiative that aims to establish stronger ties with Asian countries.

Cavusoglu said Turkiye is more aware of the fact that Asia is particularly an economic powerhouse. Turkiye considers Sri Lanka as the “pearl of the Indian Ocean” and an “extremely valuable and important ally”, he added.

Noting that they signed a Double Taxation Avoidance agreement on Friday, he said that this agreement will enable the two countries to make their economic relations go further.

He said the bilateral trade volume have reached the pre-pandemic levels, adding that the potential is much higher.

The two countries agreed that trade should be diversified and that they have identified areas where they can work in this regard, he added.

Noting that they can work to improve relations in health, pharmaceutics, construction, and tourism fields, he said Turkiye is also ready to share its experiences on “safe tourism.”

Cavusoglu went on to say that strengthening cultural relations between the countries is an important agenda item.

Turkish Airlines aims to increase the number of flights to Sri Lanka from 11 to 14 per week as of September, he said. These flights from Istanbul and Colombo make an important contribution to the relationship between the countries.

Underlining that Turkiye is determined to continue cooperation with Sri Lanka, the foreign minister said they will keep joint efforts to combat terrorism.

He said Turkiye is grateful for Sri Lanka’s support in the fight against the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), which orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, in which 251 people were killed and 2,734 injured.

Noting that they attach importance to cooperation with Sri Lanka in the field of the defense industry, he said that the Sri Lankan president visited the Turkish defense industry fair. “There is a very important potential there,” Cavusoglu added.

“We can further expand and improve these relations by working together,” he stressed.

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