PM to visit Turkey, strengthen bilateral ties

People walk in front of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.

ISTANBUL: Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob will embark on a four-day official visit to Turkey beginning Tuesday (July 5), as both countries strive to strengthen their bilateral and economic ties, as well as cooperation in aerospace and defence industries.

Malaysia’s Ambassador to Turkey Sazali Mustafa Kamal said that during the visit, being held at the invitation of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, both leaders are also expected to touch on post-pandemic cooperation.

"The inaugural meeting of the two Islamic country leaders will definitely open more opportunities for cooperation between the two countries. Apart from bilateral cooperation, both leaders are also expected to discuss issues concerning Ukraine and food security,” he told a press conference with Malaysian journalists here on Monday (July 4).

The Prime Minister is scheduled to meet the Turkish President at the Presidential Complex in Ankara on Thursday, followed by a delegation meeting between Malaysia and Turkey.

During the visit, Ismail Sabri will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah; International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali; Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba; Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Special Functions) Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad; Air Force Chief General Tan Sri Mohd Asghar Khan Goriman Khan, as well as Chief of Army General Tan Sri Zamrose Mohd Zain.

The Prime Minister will first fly into Istanbul on Tuesday morning to begin the official visit.

Upon his arrival at the Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (ISGIA), the premier will be given a briefing on the airport owned and managed by Malaysia Airports, whose involvement in ISGIA started in 2008 and has now become one of the landmark symbols of Malaysia-Turkey business relations.

The airport, one of two international airports serving Istanbul, is in the Asian part of the bi-continental Istanbul and is named after Sabiha Gokcen, the first female fighter pilot in the world.

"MAHB has invested about 500 million Euros in the Sabiha airport project and is looking at more such projects in the country,” he said on the airport, which is the second largest in Turkey and the world’s busiest single runway and terminal.

After the visit to the ISGIA, the Prime Minister will host a luncheon for Keluarga Malaysia residing in the country, before holding meetings with Turkish business communities, said the ambassador, adding that about 15 MoUs and Letter of Intent are expected to be signed during the visit.

Sazali said Turkiye is the third biggest trade partner in the Middle East after Saudi Arabia and UAE, with total trade between the two countries recorded at RM16.97bil (US$4.09bil) in 2021, and projects implemented valued at RM444.59mil (US$130.91mil).

In 2021, Malaysia exported more than US$1.06bil worth of palm oil and palm oil products to support the growing demand, particularly in the Turkish food industry, as well as the home and personal care industry.

Sazali said that on Wednesday (July 6), the premier will travel to the capital Ankara, where he is scheduled to visit the country’s two major players in defence and aerospace, respectively - MKE Corporation and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI).

Meanwhile, he said the opening of borders is also expected to revive the tourism industries between both countries after the Covid-19 pandemic, adding that 107,000 Malaysians visited the country in 2019, while 15,000 Turkish tourists went to Malaysia.

Both countries established diplomatic relations in 1964. - Bernama

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