ISLAMABAD - Setting an ambitious target of taking the bilateral trade from existing $3 billion to $5-10 billion in the next few years, Pakistan and Turkey have agreed to work toward a free trade agreement as well as to enhance relations in all sectors.

Some 11 protocols and memoranda of understanding (MoUs) were signed between the two countries aimed at giving boost to the existing relations in diverse areas.

Besides having one-on-one meeting at PM’s House, the premiers of both the brotherly Islamic states also chaired Pakistan-Turkey High Level Strategic Cooperation Council wherein ways and means to give boost to their existing relations came under sharp focus.

Addressing a joint press stakeout at the conclusion of a series of meetings, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu said that both sides have agreed to give a central thrust to bilateral trade and investment cooperation.

“We are embarking on new trade liberalisation initiatives,” Sharif said in his remarks to the press as his Turkish counterpart agreed that both the countries have great potential in trade.

“What we need is more interaction, cooperation and a better atmosphere,” Turkish Prime Minister said in his remarks.

He said both the countries also needed a better and efficient transport network and desired greater frequency of flights of Pakistan International and Turkish Airlines between the two countries.

He also spoke of need of having more cooperation in railways, maritime and energy to promote trade.

Sharif said Pakistan-Turkey cooperation on security, defence and counter-terrorism remains robust.

They vowed to continue supporting each other in all areas and in keeping with their rich historical and cultural ties.

The Turkish Prime Minister announced an additional support of US 20 million dollars for internally displaced persons and the flood affected people.

The two leaders also discussed the situation in the region, particularly with reference to transition in Afghanistan and had an exclusive meeting, besides the one with their aides before inking 10 agreements and memoranda of understandings, along with a joint statement.

Sharif said the MoUs and agreements signed between the two countries would further enhance bilateral cooperation in diverse fields including economic, social sectors, energy and trade.

“We have no doubt that Pakistan-Turkey relations will continue to grow from strength to strength - serving as a powerful factor for stability in the region and beyond,” he added.

He said Pakistan and Turkey were pivotal states, playing a vitally important role in their respective regions and crafting effective responses to challenges and opportunities.

The two leaders also headed the 4th session of the High Level Strategic Cooperation Council (HLSCC) between the two countries.

Sharif said wide-ranging talks were held to reaffirm joint commitment to continue to transform special relationship into a strong strategic partnership.

He said HLSCC provides strategic focus and direction to their bilateral relationship - covering key areas like political cooperation, trade, finance and banking, energy, transport and communications, education, culture and tourism.

Prime Minister Sharif said he was gratified with the outcome of their extensive talks and said it would place their relationship on an even higher pedestal.

“As indispensable partners, Pakistan and Turkey will continue to work closely  making a substantial contribution to peace and development, at bilateral, regional and international levels.”

Turkish PM said the two countries had so far inked over 50 agreements and memoranda of understanding following the four High Level Strategic Cooperation Council (HLSCC) meetings.

Prime Sharif said he apprised Davutoglu of Pakistan’s endeavours for peace, stability and development in South Asia - as part of country’s vision of a ‘peaceful neighbourhood.’

“I highlighted the efforts Pakistan has made for a good-neighbourly relationship with India and our commitment to a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute.”

He also expressed the hope that Pakistan’s constructive approach would be reciprocated by the other side, in the interest of regional peace and strategic stability.

Prime Minister Davutoglu appreciated Pakistan’s initiatives for good relations with India and said stability in the sub-continent was essential for Asia.

“Turkey will always contribute to all these peace-oriented initiatives,” he said.

Prime Minister Sharif also highlighted the historic new phase Pakistan had commenced in relations with Afghanistan and the intensifying multi-dimensional cooperation on political, security, counter-terrorism and trade and economic issues.

The Turkish Prime Minister said Pakistan and Turkey had a trilateral arrangement on Afghanistan and their foreign ministers would be meeting soon to discuss the developments, before the next summit to be held in Turkey.

Referring to the transition in Afghanistan, the Turkish Prime Minister noted the ‘excellent cooperation’ between Prime Minister Sharif and President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan and said their high level strategic dialogue was progressing in a ‘fruitful manner’.

Sharif said both the leaders met on Tuesday in the backdrop of the Paris attack and its aftermath. “I shared my deep anguish and unreserved condemnation of any attempts to vilify Islam and justify sacrilegious acts towards our Holy Prophet (PBUH) in the name of freedom of expression.”

Condemning terrorism in all forms, Prime Minister Sharif said Pakistan and Turkey had reaffirmed their resolve to work together to oppose any form of Islamophobia.

The Turkish Prime Minister said he also briefed Prime Minister Sharif of the situation in Syria, Iraq and the issue of Cyprus, besides other challenges it was confronting.

“I also discussed issue of terrorism and Islamophobia in different parts of the world,” and also mentioned the killings of Muslims in the United States, burning of mosques in Europe.”

“It is high time for all humanity to stand shoulder to shoulder against terrorism and against any type of racism, xenophobia and Islamophobic tendencies.”

He said Turkey and Pakistan were two leading democracies and shared the same objectives in international arena and would continue to support each other in efforts for international peace and stability.

Prime Minister Sharif in his opening remarks welcomed the Turkish prime minister and his delegation to their second home in Turkish – ‘Pakistan Hosh-gel-deniz’ meaning `Welcome to Pakistan’.

The prime minister said the relationship between Pakistan and Turkey was unique in inter-state ties, for the depth of mutual trust and abiding commitment.