Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Turkey desires to increase political contacts and consultations with Asian countries, a senior official of Turkey’s ruling party said on Friday.

Cevdet Yilmaz, Justice and Development (AK) Party’s deputy chairman for foreign affairs, attended an exclusive video conference session on the COVID-19 pandemic hosted by the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP).

“We believe this crisis shall and should bring an opportunity for fundamental changes. During the pandemic, we have witnessed many inspiring acts of solidarity. Now is the time to look into trends that can transform developments beyond the COVID-19 crisis,” Yilmaz told the representatives of ICAPP in a video link meeting.

ICAPP was launched in Manila in September 2000 to promote exchanges and cooperation between political parties with various ideologies from different Asian countries.

ICAPP aims to enhance mutual understanding and trust among Asian countries and to promote Asia’s regional cooperation through dialogues and common programs among political parties.

Instead of withdrawal and self-interest, all over the world, Turkey sees an outpouring of support and solidarity, Yilmaz noted.

“Despite physical distancing, governments are finding creative ways to connect and help one another, reaching out to their friends in different countries,” he said.

Yilmaz said that Turkey aims at strengthening dialogue not only with every friendly Asian country within the framework of different conditions presented by each, “but also with the existing regional organizations and institutions as far as possible.”

“Therefore, especially in these difficult times, we desire to increase political contacts and consultations, to explore cooperation areas that would be framed in medium to long term in a wide range of fields such as, trade, investment, new technologies, environment, development, energy, transportation, humanitarian aid and other relevant dimensions with Asian partners and to engage in joint projects in third countries and regions,” he said.

Since first appearing in China last December, the novel coronavirus causing the COVID-19 disease has spread to at least 188 countries and regions. The US, Russia, Brazil, and several European countries are currently the hardest-hit in the world.

The pandemic has killed at least 333,398 worldwide, with more than 5.12 million confirmed cases, while recoveries have surpassed 1.96 million, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University in the US.

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