ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday invited Turkiye to join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to bring about regional prosperity, alleviate poverty and empower people through better education and health facilities, Pakistani state media reported.
Sharif arrived in Turkiye on Friday on a two-day visit that he said would unpack the “untapped potential” of bilateral ties between the two countries.
The prime minister vowed to boost Pakistan-Turkiye trade and defense cooperation to $5 billion, inviting Turkiye to join CPEC, a major segment of Beijing’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative.
Under the $65 billion project, Beijing is building a network of roads, railways, pipelines and ports in Pakistan that will connect China to the Arabian Sea and help Islamabad expand and modernize its economy.
“I would suggest that let this be a cooperation between China, Pakistan and Turkiye. This would be a wonderful joint cooperation. This will bring prosperity and progress to this entire region,” Pakistan’s APP news agency quoted Sharif as saying at a joint press stakeout with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“This will help alleviate poverty and unemployment. This will certainly empower our poor people. This will promote education and health. This is how we can meet the challenges of today.”
Sharif said he would be “happy” to discuss the matter with the Chinese leadership, if Turkiye moved ahead on the idea of joining the CPEC.
In their meeting, the two leaders underscored the effective implementation of a trade and goods agreement the two countries signed in August this year, according to the report.
Sharif said the $1 billion trade volume between Pakistan and Turkiye did not reflect the close brotherly relations and promised to make all-out efforts to achieve the target of $5 billion trade between the two countries.
Erdogan said both countries were hopeful of further increasing their relations in trade, defense and other sectors.
Expressing grief over the deaths and destruction caused by the recent floods in Pakistan, the Turkish president said, “Our solidarity has been shown to each other during challenging times… Pakistan’s joy is our joy and their grief is our grief.”
The deadly floods, blamed on climate change, killed more than 1,700 Pakistanis, affected 33 million others and caused the country more than $30 billion losses earlier this year.