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  • PM Shehbaz to leave for two-day official tour of Turkiye on Friday

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    Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Turkiye President Recep Tayyip Erdogan File photo Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Turkiye President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

    Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has accepted Turkiye President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s invitation for a two-day official visit starting Friday (Nov 25 ), the Foreign Office (FO) announced on Thursday.

    According to the FO’s press release, the premier will “jointly inaugurate the third of the four Milgem Corvette ships for the Pakistan Navy, PNS Khaibar, at the Istanbul Shipyard”.

    PM Shehbaz will “interact with leaders of the Turkish business community” and also meet the President of the ECO Trade and Development Bank during his stay in the country’s urban centre, Istanbul.

    Shehbaz and Erdogan will hold wide-ranging discussions on “bilateral relations, the regional situation and other issues of common interest”, the FO said.

    The FO added that the two countries “enjoy fraternal ties deeply embedded in commonalities of faith, culture, and history and underpinned by exceptional cordiality and mutual trust”.

    The Milgem project — based on a joint collaboration between Turkiye and Pakistan — was signed with ASFAT inc, a Turkish state-owned Defence contractor firm in 2018, according to which the Pakistan navy would acquire four Milgem-class ships from Turkey.

    Milgem vessels are 99 metres long, have a displacement capacity of 2,400 tons and have a speed of 29 nautical miles.

    These anti-submarine combat frigates, which can be hidden from the radar, would further enhance the defence capability of the Pakistan Navy.

    The launching ceremony for the first Corvette for the Pakistan Navy, PNS Babur, was performed in Istanbul in August 2021 while the groundbreaking for the second ship, PNS Badr, was held in Karachi in May 2022, the FO said.

    It added that the project “represents a significant milestone in the Pakistan-Turkiye strategic partnership that continues to progress on an upward trajectory”.

    Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif earlier visited Turkiye in May-June 2022, the press release said.

    The FO termed the frequent leadership-level exchanges to be a “defining feature of the eternal bonds of Pakistan-Turkiye friendship.”