By Bahattin Gonultas
Turkey wants to boost bilateral trade volume with Sudan to $10 billion, visiting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday.
Erdogan's remarks came at a joint news conference following a closed-door meeting with his Sudanese counterpart, Omar al-Bashir.
"We need to raise our trade volume to $1 billion and then to $10 billion. We have to take appropriate steps for this," Erdogan said.
The current trade volume between Turkey and Sudan stands around $500 million, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat).
Erdogan said the two leaders agreed to set up a high-level strategic council to increase the economic cooperation between the two countries.
He said that his country was aware of the economic potential of Sudan. "We encourage businessmen to invest in Sudan," he added.
Turkey's exports to Sudan amounted to $328.5 million in January-October 2017, while imports from the country stood at $78.3 million.
Both countries on Sunday signed a total of 13 agreements pertaining to defense cooperation, mining, agriculture, forest, science, education, tourism, environment, support for mall businesses support and establishment of a strategic council.
Erdogan said he also spoke with al-Bashir on the issues related to Jerusalem.
"Jerusalem is an issue that concerns all of humanity... We will continue to support Palestinians. The UN must monitor the issue of Jerusalem," the Turkish president said.
On Thursday, The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on Jerusalem by an overwhelming majority, calling on the U.S. to withdraw its recognition of the city as Israel's capital.
- 'Important visit'
Sudanese president, for his part, said Erdogan’s visit, which is the first by a Turkish president in Sudan, would boost relations between the two nations.
"Brother Erdogan's visit is very important as Muslims around the world are exposed to repression and torture and they need unity and togetherness," al-Bashir added.
Later, the Turkish president addressed the Sudanese parliament on Sunday evening.
Erdogan praised al-Bashir's efforts in Sudan's National Dialogue Process and said: "I would especially like to express my content over Sudan being able to leave behind the troubled period during the last 20 years.”
“We welcome the support given to the National Dialogue Process initiated under the leadership of Mr. President al-Bashir and supported by your esteemed parliament members," he said.
The Turkish president also called on "the armed groups and opposition parties, which are not participating in the National Dialogue Process" to also get involved in the process "as soon as possible."
Erdogan underlined that Sudan proved to be "a responsible member" of the international community via its "constructive active foreign policy towards the security and stability of the region."
He ended his remarks at the parliament by reaffirming Turkey's support to the country.
On Monday, he will visit several Ottoman historical sites in the eastern Sudanese town of Suakin, which has been an important port city for centuries.
He is later scheduled to attend a Sudanese-Turkish business forum with his Sudanese counterpart.