Turkish premier to tour African countries

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to depart Sunday for a three-nation African tour.

Erdogan will visit Gabon, Niger and Senegal in his first foreign trip abroad in the new year, he will meet with officials, participate in business forums and sign several agreements during the six-day African tour.

The Turkish premier’s first stop will be Gabon, where he is set to meet with Gabonese President Ali Ben Bongo Ondimba and the country’s Prime Minister Raymond Ndong Sima and appear in a joint press conference.

Accompanied by a large delegation of Turkish businesspeople, Erdogan will speak in a Turkish-Gabonese business forum which would seek cooperation opportunities in trade and investment.

"Turkish premier’s visit is a significant message. The visit aims at continuing relations at the top level and devise new solid projects," Turkey’s ambassador to Gabon, Ahmet Demirel, told Anadolu Agency, adding that Turkey’s national air carrier, the Turkish Airlines, would soon launch direct flights to Libreville.

Erdogan will visit Niger on January 8 on the second stop of his African tour and meet with President Mahamadou Issoufou and chair meetings between Turkish and Nigerien officials.

"Our economic and trade relations have gained a significant momentum over the past couple of years and our trade volume increased 70 percent. Prime Minister Erdogan’s visit constitutes a great opportunity to bolster bilateral ties," said Askin Cakmak, a senior diplomat with the Turkish Embassy in Niamey.

On January 10, Erdogan will arrive in Senegal, the last stop of the tour and he will meet with President Macky Sall and Prime Minister Abdoul Mbaye and the two premiers will chair meetings between Turkish and Senegalese officials.

Turkey’s exports to Senegal stood at $109 million in the January-October period of 2012, down from $116 millon over the same period a year earlier.

"Senegal has been an uninterrupted democracy island since 1960. The country offers great opportunities in investment for Turkish businesspeople," Turkish ambassadress in Dakar, Zeynep Sibel Algan, told The AA.

Turkey has opened embassies in 19 African countries in the last three years to bring the total number of its top diplomatic missions in the continent to 31.

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