Ankara seeks strategic pact with Damascus

July 24, 2009 at 11:59 AM
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ANKARA, Turkey, July 24 (UPI) -- Ankara plans to pursue a bilateral strategic agreement with Damascus that is based on a 2008 mechanism established with Baghdad, officials say.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said he would lead negotiations to reach a strategic cooperation pact with Syria, Today's Zaman reports. His comments followed a visit to Damascus with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier this week.

Davutoglu noted the Damascus agreement would be similar to one reached with Baghdad in 2008. Ankara and Baghdad in 2008 signed a joint declaration to establish a strategic cooperation council in order to build a long-term partnership.

Ankara and Damascus signed a bilateral agreement in 2002 that allows both countries to coordinate their military activities, conducting their first-ever joint border exercises in April.

In June, the Turkish Ministry of Defense began negotiations with NATO to demine its border with Syria.

Turkey and Syria approached the brink of war in 1998 following Ankara's displeasure with Syrian support for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party.

Ankara, meanwhile, said it would discuss coordinating indirect talks between Israel and Syria while pressing Israel to abandon its claims to the Golan Heights.

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