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Turkey to restore Sudanese Red Sea port and build naval dock

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ISTANBUL/KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Turkey will rebuild a ruined Ottoman port city on Sudan’s Red Sea coast and construct a naval dock to maintain civilian and military vessels, Sudan’s foreign minister said on Tuesday, as Ankara expands military and economic ties in Africa.

The restoration at Suakin was agreed during a visit to the ancient port by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said.

Making the first trip by a Turkish president to Sudan, Erdogan said Turkey had been temporarily granted part of Suakin so it could rebuild the area as a tourist site and a transit point for pilgrims crossing the Red Sea to Mecca.

He said the Suakin deal was one of several, worth $650 million in total, agreed with Sudan, which emerged from two decades of U.S. sanctions in October and is seeking to attract international investment.

The countries also agreed “to build a dock to maintain civilian and military vessels,” Ghandour told reporters, adding that they had signed an agreement “that could result in any kind of military cooperation”.

The agreements come three months after Turkey formally opened a $50 million military training base in Somalia as it exerts increasing influence in the region.

Suakin was Sudan’s major port when it was ruled by the Ottoman Empire, but fell into disuse over the last century after the construction of Port Sudan, 35 miles (60 km) to the north.

Speaking on Monday in Khartoum, Erdogan said the refurbished port city would attract Mecca-bound pilgrims who would want to see the island’s history, helping Sudan’s tourism sector.

“Imagine, people from Turkey wishing to go on pilgrimage will come and visit the historical areas on Suakin Island,” Erdogan said. “From there … they will cross to Jeddah by boat.”

The other agreements signed during Erdogan’s visit include Turkish investment to build Khartoum’s planned new airport and private sector investments in cotton production, electricity generation and building grain silos and meat slaughterhouses.

Erdogan and Bashir said they aimed for trade between the two countries to reach $10 billion, Turkey’s Foreign Economic Relations Board said.

In October, the United States lifted a trade embargo and other penalties that had cut Sudan off from much of the global financial system.

Sudan’s state minister for investment has said he aims to attract investment of $10 billion a year, compared to $1 billion estimated by the United Nations for 2016.

Somali News

Somalia, Turkey ink trade deals to boost bilateral ties

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MOGADISHU, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) — Somalia said on Monday that it signed a raft of trade agreements with Turkey aimed at boosting an already thriving economic cooperation between the two countries.

Somali Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Ahmed Gulaid said he signed a cooperation protocol during the inaugural meeting of a Joint Economic Commission (JEC), noting that Mogadishu was open to foreign investment and ready to boost trade cooperation with all friendly countries.

“The agreements will also open Somali exports to Central Asian markets through the Turkish gateway as well as to contribute to the country’s economic recovery and to generate employment for the Somali youth,” Gulaid said in a statement issued in Mogadishu.

He said the objective of the JEC is to translate the number of memorandums of understanding signed between the two countries into reality with immediate priority being to open Turkish markets for Somali products such as dry lemon, sesame and banana.

The deputy prime minister stressed that revitalizing the Horn of Africa country’s economy was one of the top priorities of the Somali government.

The two countries had previously signed trade agreements in areas such as energy, mines, electricity, higher education, agriculture, and fisheries.

Gulaid said Turkey’s investment in Somalia is more than 100 million U.S. dollars, predicting that the bilateral trade volume could rise to 200 million dollars from about 120 million dollars in 2016.

The two countries resolved to convene regular meetings to follow up on the implementation of the agreements and to bolster the strategic cooperation in the years to come.

“Apart from the historical relations between our countries, Turkey has become a very important ally for the Somali people and we are committed to consolidate these relations for the mutual benefit of our two countries,” Gulaid said.

He said trade ties will also open the gates for the Somali business community to have business-to-business deals with their Turkish counterparts and to participate in Turkish trade fairs.

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Turkey

Plane dangles off cliff after skidding off runway in Turkey

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ISTANBUL (AP) — A commercial plane that skidded off a runway after landing in northern Turkey dangled precariously off a muddy cliff with its nose only a few feet from the sea.

Some of the 168 people on board the Boeing 737-800 described it as a “miracle” that everyone was evacuated safely.

Images show the aircraft on its belly and at an acute angle just above the water. If it had slid any further along the slope, the plane would have likely plunged into the Black Sea in the Turkish province of Trabzon.

The incident late Saturday created panic among the 162 passengers on board Pegasus Airlines Flight PC8622. The six-member crew, including two pilots, was also evacuated and Pegasus said there were no injuries. Flights were suspended at Trabzon Airport for several hours after the incident before resuming again Sunday.

Passenger Yuksel Gordu told Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency that words weren’t enough to describe their fear.

“It’s a miracle we escaped. We could have burned, exploded, flown into the sea,” Gordu said. “Thank God for this. I feel like I’m going crazy when I think about it.”

Another passenger, Fatma Gordu, told private Dogan news agency that there was a loud sound after landing.

“We swerved all of a sudden,” she said. “The front of the plane crashed and the back was in the air. Everyone panicked.”

Trabzon Gov. Yucel Yavuz said that investigators were trying to determine why the plane had left the runway. The prosecutor’s office launched an investigation.

The flight originated in the capital, Ankara.

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Somali News

Turkey, Somalia sign economic partnership pact

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Turkey and Somalia on Friday signed a pact to boost their strategic economic partnership.

“We wish to deepen relations with Somalia. Turkey’s investment in Somalia stands at over $100 million,” Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Recep Akdag told a signing ceremony alongside his Somali counterpart Mahdi Mohammed Gulaid.

“This figure forms a foundation to prompt bigger cooperation in the days to come.”

He predicted that the bilateral trade volume would rise to $200 million from about $120 million in 2016.

He spoke at the opening of a Turkey-Somalia Joint Economic Commission meeting in the capital Ankara co-chaired by himself and Gulaid.

Akdag added that both countries should carry through 2016 memorandums of understanding in such areas as energy, mines, electricity, higher education, agriculture, and maritime affairs.

He added an expected free trade agreement between the two countries would boost trade ties.

Gulaid, for his part, said the meeting would maintain bilateral economic ties and bolster strategic cooperation in the years to come.

The countries also inked a memorandum of understanding on fishing and fisheries, signed by Turkey’s Food, Agriculture and Livestock Minister Ahmet Esref Fakibaba and Somali’s Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister Abdirahman Mohamed Abdi Hashi.

“Now we have started work on the development of Somalia as well as [it] becoming a major economic power with the support of Turkey,” Hashi said following the signing ceremony, adding that the pact would be the beginning of numerous future cooperation deals between the two countries.

Under the deal, Turkish fishermen will be able to fish in Somalia’s territorial waters.

Turkey and Somalia have long enjoyed friendly relations, as Turkey has invested in many areas to help modernize Mogadishu, the capital of the Horn of Africa country.

Last September, Turkey opened its largest military training academy abroad in Somalia.

Located south of Mogadishu, the training facility took some two years to build.

The facility spans over 4 square kilometers (1.54 square miles), and can train more than 1,500 troops at a time, according to the Somali government.

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