Four in Middle East to open free trade

Sept. 27, 2010 at 5:33 PM

NEW YORK, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Turkey had agreed to move forward on a regional free-trade zone.

Davutoglu told reporters in New York that a summit meeting in Istanbul would likely concluded with an announcement that the four-country trade agreement, including "visa-free" travel for the region, would begin in January.

"We will declare at that summit that this economic zone is in effect," Davutoglu said after meeting with foreign ministers of Jordan, Syria and Lebanon at U.N. Headquarters, Today's Zaman reported.

Turkey and Lebanon have already entered into a formal free-trade and visa-free arrangement with a deal signed this summer.

But the deal may well be a first step towards a Middle East version of the European Union, Today's Zaman reported.

Turkey has been openly pursuing membership to the EU since 2005, but the application process has moved slowly.

In New York, Davutoglu said, "The EU is of course a good model of cooperation and we can look into it. But this cooperation, after all, is a product of our history."

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