January 27, 2005

East Turkestan: Turkish FM Set to Visit China Next Month

Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul will pay an official visit to China on February 1-5 in a bid to boost bilateral ties and look into prospects of increased economic cooperation, the foreign ministry said Wednesday
Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul will pay an official visit to China on February 1-5 in a bid to boost bilateral ties and look into prospects of increased economic cooperation, the foreign ministry said Wednesday.

Details of Gul's itinerary were not immediately available, but his talks were expected to focus mostly on flourishing trade between the two countries.

Bilateral trade stood at three billion dollars in 2003 and increased to 4.2 billion dollars in the first 11 months of 2004, but to the disadvantege of Turkey.

"Our priority aim in the short term is to allow for a balanced growth in trade and encouraging cooperation in the field of investments," foreign ministry spokesman Namik Tan told a press conference here.

He added that allowing Turkish construction firms to take part in Chinese infrastructure projects, opening the way for direct Chinese investments and encouraging Chinese tourists to visit Turkey were among planned targets.

The two countries have no problems on the political front, with Turkey supporting China's territorial integrity and opposing any separatist movement from East Turkestan, west China's predominantly Muslim Xinjiang region.

Turkic-speaking Uighur separatists have been fighting to re-establish an independent state of East Turkestan in Xinjiang. They accuse the ruling Chinese of political, religious and cultural repression.

Beijing insists that the activities of some ethnic Uighurs should be dealt with as part of the global war on terror, but rights groups say Beijing is using terrorism as an excuse to clamp down on peaceful dissent.

 

Source: Turkish Press

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