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By JOHN SAKALA
Minister of Defence, Davies Chama has called for enhanced collaboration between Zambia and Turkey under the framework of the proposed Defence Cooperation Agreement between the two countries.
Mr Chama said enhanced defence cooperation with Turkey is timely and in line with Government’s agenda to modernise the Zambia Defence Force as well as promotion of international peace and security through increased participation in peace-keeping initiatives.
The Minister was speaking to Turkey’s International News Agency, Anadolu, shortly after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan officially opened the 14th International Defence Industry Fair in Istanbul today.
“Turkey is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and I have no doubt in my mind that the products at this fair are of high quality. We need to see how we can develop our defence industries together with Turkey and enhance defence cooperation as we secure the world and the African continent to provide peace and tranquillity so that we can co-exist as peaceful nations,” Mr Chama said.
The Minister said Turkey and Zambia shared similar aspirations in the promotion of international peace and security.
He expressed happiness that the Attorney General had cleared the draft Defence Cooperation Agreement and Memorandum of Understanding (Mou) on Cooperation with Turkey in the field of Defence Industries.
Mr Chama further said the invitation to attend the 14th IDEF by his Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar, will help to cement relations and defence cooperation between Zambia and Turkey.
Mr Chama added that the high-level reciprocal visits by President Edgar Lungu and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July last year had enhanced the existing warm bilateral relations between the two countries.
The Minister said it was gratifying that agreements signed during President Erdogan’s historic visit to Zambia were now bearing fruit with the introduction of a direct flight between Lusaka and Istanbul by Turkish Airlines.
Earlier, Mr Chama was among dignitaries invited to attend IDEF, which was officially opened by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
President Erdogan later led Mr Chama and other dignitaries on a conducted tour of the exhibition of latest state-of-the-art equipment, materials and systems produced in the fields of defense and security.
The 14th IDEF, which opened today and ends April 3, 2019, has attracted over 1,000 Turkish and international exhibitors.
The Minister is tomorrow expected to hold bilateral talks with his Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar.
This is according to a media statement made available by First Secretary for Press at the Zambian Embassy in Turkey Jerry Munthali.