Turkey’s president on Thursday marked the 70th anniversary of the Korean War.

“On this historic day that we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Korean War,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a video sent to a ceremony held in South Korea. “I remember our hallowed martyrs with grace and our veterans with gratitude.”

Erdogan said he felt very pleased that the friendship ties between the two countries, stemming from the unique solidarity forged during the Korean War, have been gaining strength.

“We are determined to carry our relations, which we increased to the level of strategic partnership in 2012, a step further in the coming period,” he added.

Turkey was the first country after the US to answer the UN’s call for military aid to South Korea after the North attacked in 1950.

The first Turkish brigade left the port of Mersin in southern Turkey under the command of Brig. Gen. Tahsin Yazici on Sept. 17, arriving 26 days later in Busan, Korea.

With a total of 21,212 soldiers, Turkey sent the fourth-largest number of troops to Korea, with four brigades.

Among 16 participating countries, Turkey gave more casualties than all but two countries, with over 900 total martyrs, veterans, and missing in action. The UN Memorial Cemetery in Busan bears 462 Turkish martyrs.

Ankara and Seoul have enjoyed good relations since the 1950s, with both countries’ leaders maintaining bilateral ties as well as dialogue within international organizations such as the UN, G20, and MIKTA (Mexico, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Turkey, and Australia).

*Writing by Gozde Bayar

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