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Turkey wants closer ties with Sri Lanka – Turkish Foreign Minister

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Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said that Turkey wants to flourish holistic relations with Asia that has become the centre of global economic power, reported Anadolu Agency.

Inaugurating a new office of Sri Lanka’s Antalya Honorary Consulate General in the town of Alanya, the foreign minister expressed Turkey’s desires to promote cooperation in economy, culture and education.

Highlighting the important role of honorary consulates in diplomatic interactions, Cavusoglu talked about the first Turkish diplomatic contact with Sri Lanka that was established in 1864 when an honorary consulate was opened by the Ottoman Empire, according to Anadolu Agency.

He further said that after the Sri-Lanka gained independence in 1948, Turkey was one of the first countries to recognize a sub-continent country.

Talking about the growing bilateral ties between the two countries, Cavusoglu said that the relations have grown stronger since the tsunami hit Sri Lanka in 2004, post which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan paid a visit to the country.

The foreign minister further commented on the country’s financial relations with Lanka and said that the two countries had set a target of half a billion dollars, however, the current figure stands at about USD102 million in the first half of 2021.

Cavusoglu suggested that maintaining the economic relationships that are based on some “specialised products” would be unsustainable, reported the agency. He further suggested that the relations should be incorporated and explored by the health and tourism sectors.

“[Turkey] Will further develop our cooperation with friendly Sri Lanka in the framework of our Asia Anew Initiative,” Cavusoglu said in a tweet. “Your generous gesture toward Sri Lanka reflects our two countries’ historical brotherly relations. I must say Turkey is a true friend,” Anadolu Agency reported Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Turkey Mohamed Rizvi Hassen as saying.

“By opening the consulate we are looking forward to increasing trade, investment, tourism and cultural relations, and more importantly people-to-people contact with this region. The region of Antalya has many opportunities, which can bind the business community in Sri Lanka. Our initiative to open this office provides an opening to explore untapped opportunities available in Antalya for the betterment of the people of Turkey and Sri Lanka,” AA quoted Hassen as saying. (ANI)

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