Turkey, Syria sign strategic partnership

Oct. 14, 2009 at 3:37 PM
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DAMASCUS, Syria, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- Syrian and Turkish officials agreed during bilateral meetings in Damascus to form a long-term strategic partnership to enhance their relationship.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu led a delegation to Damascus to discuss the improvement in bilateral relations between the two Arab neighbors.

A joint declaration issued by the official Syrian Arab News Agency said the two governments agreed to form a "long-term strategic partnership" based on the strong cultural bonds and solidarity among its people.

Syria and Turkey had formed a bilateral council in September in an effort to re-establish their relations and work toward a joint vision for regional issues.

In April, Turkish and Syrian ground forces conducted joint military exercises along their shared border in what was described as the first-ever cooperation of its kind.

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

Ankara and Damascus, however, signed a bilateral agreement in 2002 that allows both countries to coordinate their military activity.

That effort is in part a reflection of the move by Syrian President Bashar Assad to ease at least some of the isolationist policies in his country.

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