ISLAMABAD - Pakistan and Turkey yesterday agreed to bolster defence ties and fight together the challenge of Islamophobia.

In a meeting here between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Dr Arif Alvi, it was decided that Pakistan and Turkey must continue to work closely to counter challenges.

The meeting took place before a banquet hosted by President Alvi in honour of President Erdogan and the entourage accompanying him. The reception was attended by Prime Minister Imran Khan, Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa, cabinet members and senior officials.

President Erdogan is visiting Pakistan for the sixth Session of High Level Strategic Cooperation Council.

An official statement said that the two Presidents underlined the special significance of the historic bilateral relationship between the two countries in diverse areas including political, economic, cultural, defence and people-to-people contacts.

President Alvi, extending a warm welcome to President Erdogan, expressed gratification over the level of enhanced and multifaceted engagement between the two countries.

He added that the sixth Session of High Level Strategic Cooperation Council will further strengthen and broaden the fraternal relations between Pakistan and Turkey.

President Alvi apprised President Erdogan of the worsening human rights situation in the Occupied Kashmir and took the opportunity to thank the President Erdogan for his principled stand on Kashmir.

“The two leaders also exchanged views on regional and international issues. President Alvi highlighted Pakistan’s efforts for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan and stressed that the world community should extend its help in Afghanistan’s post-conflict reconstruction,” the statement quoted the leaders.

It added: “The two leaders affirmed that both countries would continue to extend mutual support on issues of each other’s core national interest. They also underscored the importance of fully realizing the immense potential of relationship between Pakistan and Turkey and transforming it into a strong and dynamic trade and economic partnership.”

President Erdogan had arrived in Islamabad on a two-day visit to Pakistan hours earlier. He is visiting on the invitation of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

First Lady of Turkey Emine Erdogan accompanies the President. President Erdogan is also accompanied by a high-level delegation comprising cabinet members and senior government officials besides heads of leading Turkish corporations.

Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan received the Turkish leader at the Nur Khan Air Base in Rawalpindi. Setting aside protocol, PM Khan personally drove Tayyip Erdogan to the PM’s House. Later on the Turkish President was accorded Guard of Honour at the Prime Minister’s House.

PM Khan and President Erdogan will have a one-on-one meeting today (February 14), after which they will co-chair the sixth Session of the Pakistan-Turkey High Level Strategic Cooperation Council in the joint cabinet format.

At the conclusion of the session, a joint declaration will be signed.

A number of important agreements and Memorandums of Understanding are expected to be concluded. The two leaders will also have a joint media stakeout.

Together with PM Imran Khan, he will address the Pakistan-Turkey Business and Investment Forum which brings together leading investors and business-people from both sides.

Pakistan and Turkey have a unique and abiding relationship characterized by mutual support and exceptional mutual trust and understanding. Turkey supports the cause of self-determination for the people of Occupied Kashmir. Pakistan stands by Turkey on the question of Cyprus, a foreign ministry statement said.

“Under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Erdogan, the Pak-Turkey relations have further fortified into an enduring partnership. The visit of President Erdogan will further deepen the flourishing Pakistan-Turkey strategic partnership,” the statement added.

President Erdogan and Prime Minister Imran Khan will also address the Pakistan-Turkey Business and Investment Forum which brings together leading investors and business-people from both sides.

The Turkish President will today (February 14) address the joint session of the parliament.

He will be the 21st foreign dignitary to address the joint session and first to address the incumbent parliament.

After the February 14 event, President Erdogan will have the unique honour to address the joint sitting of the Pakistani parliament thrice. He addressed the earlier two times as the PM of Turkey.

Turkish Ambassador to Pakistan Mustafa Yurdakul said that President Erdogan’s visit to Islamabad would be a historic event and major step towards exemplary bilateral ties between the two brotherly countries.

He said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor was at a completion level and Turkey was interested in being a part of special economic zones, which will be established under the project.