DAMASCUS, Syria, July 22 (UPI) -- Syrian President Bashar Assad welcomed the Turkish premier to Damascus on Wednesday to discuss bilateral relations and international developments.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan paid a working visit to Damascus to discuss matters of mutual interest, the official Syrian Arab News Agency reports.
The visit is part of a broader effort by Damascus to strengthen its ties to its neighbors.
Turkey reached a deal earlier in July to sell Syria 35 billion cubic feet of natural gas and 400 megawatts of electricity within the next five years.
Iran in May, meanwhile, signed a memorandum of understanding in Baghdad with Iraq and Turkey to link power and energy networks with Syria.
Turkey, for its part, had expressed its willingness to engage Damascus on a variety of fronts. The Turkish Ministry of Defense announced in June it had started negotiations with NATO to clear landmines along the border with Syria.
The two countries had signed a bilateral agreement in 2002 that allows both countries to coordinate their military activity. In April, they conducted their first-ever joint military exercise.
Erdogan also received an honorary doctorate degree in international relations from Syria's Aleppo University.
This is his fifth visit to Syria since becoming the prime minister of Turkey in 2003.