Turkey's southward strategy aims to boost clout in Middle East

15:15, July 22, 2010      

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Turkish President Abdullah Gul's two-day visit to Egypt marked his first to the Middle East heavyweight since Israel's deadly raid on an international aid ship bound for Gaza in May.

With its ties with Israel deteriorating and its bid to join the European Union (EU) stuttering, Turkey is looking to engage more with Arab countries and intends to boost its clout in the Middle East by reaching out to the south, to Arab nations, experts say.

NO WRESTLING BETWEEN TURKEY AND EGYPT

During talks in Cairo Wednesday, Gul and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak discussed "efforts to revive the Middle East peace process and other regional developments of mutual interest," Egypt's official MENA news agency reported.

Speaking at a press conference after the talks, Egypt's presidential spokesman Suleiman Awad underlined the strength of relations between the two countries, denying rumors that Cairo and Ankara are vying for a regional leading role.

The two leaders have agreed to launch strategic relations between Cairo and Ankara "under the chairmanship" of the two prime ministers, he said.

They also agreed to increase the volume of trade, which is currently estimated at about 2 billion U.S. dollars, to 5 billion dollars by 2012, in addition to their commitment to establishing a Turkish industrial zone in 6th of October City, some 30 km west of downtown Cairo, Awad said.

Of note was Gul's attendance with Mubarak at the commencement and parade at Egypt's Army Military Academy before their meeting, a first for a non-Arab head of state.


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(Editor:秦唯(实习))

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