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Turkey again denies plans to establish military base in Sudan’s Suakin

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President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and President Omer al-Bashir, exchange cooperation agreement between the two countries in Khartoum on 24 Dec 2017 (SUNA Photo)

February 20, 2018 (KHARTOUM) The Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Hakan Cavusoglu has reiterated denial that his country intends to establish a military naval base on Sudan’s Red Sea coast island of Suakin.

Cavusoglu has arrived in the Sudanese capital on Tuesday on a two-day visit to discuss the implementation of decisions reached between the presidents of the two countries last December.

He is scheduled to visit Suakin Island to examine the ongoing renovation project by Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) to transform the area into a culture and tourism centre.

The Turkish minister pointed out that rumours about his country’s intentions to build a naval base in Suakin were meant to harm the relationship between the two countries.

He added Suakin is a small island and its area doesn’t allow for establishing a military base.

Located on the west coast of the Red Sea, the island is only 261 nautical miles away from Jeddah, the second largest city in Saudi Arabia.

Until the 19th century, Suakin was the residential address of the Ottoman Empire’s Habesh Eyalet, which encompasses today’s Eritrea, Djibouti and northern Somalia.

Following a trip to the ruined port city last December, an agreement was reached by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Sudan’s President Omer al-Bashir to rebuild the ruined town and to construct a naval dock to maintain civilian and military vessels.

Egyptian media and a Saudi newspaper attacked the Sudanese - Turkish deal, pointing that it aims to destabilise the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi who removed from power the Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

However, the Turkish President was quick to deny the Egyptian media allegations, saying “there is no such thing as a military port”.

INCREASING TRADE EXCHANGE

Meanwhile, Cavusoglu said Sudanese and Turkish officials would meet next month in Ankara to discuss ways to raise trade exchange between the two countries.

He told reporters following his meeting with Sudan’s Prime Minister Bakri Hassan Salih the meeting would also discuss enhancement of joint cooperation on the various fields.

“The Turkish-Sudanese relations have reached a high level, especially after President Erdogan’s visit to Sudan last December,” Cavusoglu added .

During Erdogan’s visit to Khartoum, the two sides signed 12 cooperation agreements and agreed to launch a strategic partnership covering agriculture, industry, minerals and health.

They also approved the establishment of a higher political committee headed by the two presidents, saying the committee would annually meet in Khartoum and Ankara alternately.

The two sides agreed to raise trade exchange between the two countries to $1 billion within one year to reach $10 billion in the future.

According to a report issued by the Sudanese Ministry of Investment, the volume of Turkish investments in Sudan amounted to 2 billion dollars from 2000 to 2017. It further indicates that there are 288 Turkish investment projects in the east African country.

(ST)

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