New Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has hailed the "exemplary" relations between Pakistan and Turkey, saying the countries support each other on all issues of core interest, including their claims over occupied Kashmir and Northern Cyprus.
He made the remarks in an interview with Turkish media outlet Anadolu Agency ahead of his three-day visit to the country, Directus reported.
The prime minister left for Ankara on Friday and he is expected to meet Turkish businessmen and traders, visit the mausoleum of genocide-perpetrator Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
He will also issue a commemorative plaque alongside Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to mark 75 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari reached Ankara Thursday and was received by Ankara Governor Vasip Sahin.
In the interview, Shehbaz said Islamabad and Ankara had always stood by each other for the last 75 years.
"These historical relations are firmly grounded in common religious, cultural and linguistic links and transcend political changes on either side," he said.
Both countries had similar views on regional and international issues and collaborated closely on bilateral, regional and multilateral forums, he said.
He also thanked Erdoğan for his support on the Kashmir issue.
The prime minister said that while cultural and people-to-people relations between the two countries were on an upward trajectory, Pakistan was now focusing on increasing economic cooperation.
"The current level of bilateral trade is still not a true reflection of the excellent state of our relationship," he aid.
"This is also an area where immense opportunities exist for both countries.
"During my visit here, I am meeting leading Turkish business companies to encourage them to utilise the immense opportunities existing in Pakistan in various fields, including energy, infrastructure, e-commerce, municipal agro-based industry and IT sectors, etc.
”Pakistan and Turkey support each other in all matters of national interest, be it Jammu and Kashmir or Northern Cyprus.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank Turkey, especially its leadership, for its principled support to the Jammu and Kashmir conflict.
"Both Pakistan and Turkey have similar views on regional and international issues; benefits from close cooperation in bilateral, regional and multilateral forums.
"Human-to-human and cultural contacts are on an upward trajectory. ”