Turkish prime minister begins India visit

November 21st, 2008 - 4:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Pratibha PatilNew Delhi, Nov 21 (IANS) The first visit to India by a Turkish prime minister in two decades began Friday, with an agenda to forge closer economic ties.After arriving in Delhi late Thursday night, Recep Tayyip Erdogan began his state visit with a ceremonial welcome at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhawan and then a short drive to lay a wreath at Rajghat, the mausoleum of Mahatma Gandhi.

At the forecourt ceremony, Erdogan noted that Turkey and India had long-standing and deep historical ties.

He said Turkey was not just trying to boost bilateral ties, but would also like to combat the scourge of global terrorism with India.

External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee then met the visiting dignitary, before Erdogan made a formal call on President Pratibha Patil.

In the afternoon, Erdogan addressed a business luncheon hosted by leading Indian business chambers.

During an interaction with the Turkish media enroute to India, Erdogan said he would like to increase the bilateral trade volume to reach $6 billion, from the current level of $2.6 billion.

As the visit comes with the backdrop of the financial crisis that has badly hit Turkey, Erdogan is likely to bring up this subject during his meeting with the Indian prime minister Friday evening.

The two leaders last met at the G20 summit of developed and developing countries on the financial crisis in Washington Nov 15.

Turkey has been in talks with the International Monetary Fund for a financial stimulus package, which is likely to be announced soon.

After completing his engagements in Delhi, Erdogan will also visit Agra and Bangalore.

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