ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will focus on bolstering bilateral ties and attracting Turkish investment particularly in energy and infrastructure projects, when he visits Ankara early next week.

“Increased economic cooperation, Free Trade Agreement and bolstering Turkish investment in Pakistan will be the key objectives,” a diplomatic source told The Nation on Sunday.

The Prime Minister is scheduled to embark on a three-day official visit to Turkey from September 16th. This will be the newly elected Prime Minister’s second foreign visit after China and indicates the high priority his government attaches to ties with Turkey.

A number of MoUs and bilateral agreements are expected to be signed during the trip that will focus largely on trade, commerce and investment.

In the works is also firming up of a comprehensive preferential trade agreement (PTA) to expand bilateral economic cooperation.

Collaboration in energy and infrastructure projects will be discussed just as in transportation and tourism. Reportedly among other likely areas of cooperation are education, culture and people-to-people contacts.

The positive outcome of collaboration in recent years has encouraged both the countries to explore other avenues of cooperation as well. Metro Bus and solid waste management projects in Lahore, wind energy in Sindh and several reconstruction and rehabilitation projects in Pakistan’s earthquake and flood-affected areas are often cited as success stories of such collaboration.

The Prime Minister will be accompanied by his key cabinet members, aides and a large delegation of Pakistani businessmen. The Prime Minister and his delegation will attend Pak-Turk Business Conference in Istanbul. He will co-chair the 3rd High-Level Cooperation Council (HLCC) meeting with his Turkish counterpart, it is learnt.

The Prime Minister will hold wide-ranging talks with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan and exchange views on matters of bilateral interests with the top political leadership there. The regional situation particularly the Syrian crisis and impending US military intervention and the challenging reconciliation process in Afghanistan will figure in the discussions.

The Nawaz government is keen to cash in on the tremendous goodwill that exists between the two brotherly countries by translating it into higher volumes of trade and commerce. Turkey too seems interested in increasing and diversifying cooperation with Pakistan in the energy, social, political and trade areas.