Turkey, Cuba to bolster bilateral ties

Ankara, Nov 23 (EFE).- Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Cuban counterpart Miguel Diaz-Canel agree here Wednesday to expand cooperation between their countries.

Diaz-Canel was received with full military honors before the two men met privately at the Turkish presidential palace in Ankara, official news agency Anadolu said.

During a subsequent press conference, Turkey’s conservative, Islamist president described the visit of the leader of Communist Cuba as “a point of inflection” in bilateral relations.

The level of trade between the two countries “is below its potential, undoubtedly due to the unilateral sanctions imposed on Cuba,” Erdogan said, referring to the economic embargo that the United States has maintained since 1962.

The two governments have set a goal of increasing trade volume to $200 million annually, he said.

Erdogan pointed to the involvement of Turkey’s TIKA aid agency in agricultural projects in Cuba and to joint Turkish-Cuban efforts to promote development in Africa, notably in Equatorial Guinea.

The Cuban president likewise stressed the significance of the visit – coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations – and expressed appreciation to the Turkish government and people’s support for Havana against the US “blockade.”

Six accords were signed, according to Anadolu, in areas including cooperation between the respective central banks and the framework for TIKA to operate in Cuba.

In parallel with the presidential talks, Cabinet ministers from both countries conducted technical discussions.

Diaz-Canel and his delegation left Cuba a week ago on a tour that has already taken them to Algeria and Moscow Ankara is the third stop on a tour that earlier took Diaz-Canel and his delegation to Algeria and Russia and is set to continue with a visit to China.

The Cubans’ official agenda here began Wednesday a visit to the tomb of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the general who led the successful defense of Turkey from an attempt to partition the country following the end of World War I before toppling the moribund Ottoman Empire and proclaiming a republic in 1923.

Anadolu reported that Diaz-Canel wrote in the visitor’s book at the tomb: “Ataturk, father of the modern Turkish nation, was for Comandante Fidel Castro a source of inspiration for the Republic of Cuba.”

Diaz-Canel is the first Cuban leader to visit Turkey since Fidel Castro (1926-2016) traveled to Istanbul 27 years ago. EFE dt-as-iut/dr

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