By Sultan Cogalan
ISTANBUL (AA) - El Salvador is seeking cooperation with Turkey over earthquake early warning systems, the country’s foreign minister said Friday.
"El Salvador is a quake-prone region. So, we would like to cooperate with Turkey over early warning systems. Because Turkey has an important experience in this area," Hugo Martinez Bonilla told Anadolu Agency on the sidelines of 2nd Foreign Ministers Forum of Turkey-Central American Integration System (SICA) in Istanbul.
A strong earthquake measuring 7.6 on Richter scale killed over 950 people and injured around 5,500 in the capital city of San Salvador in January 2001.
The minister said transfer of know-how, equipment and software were the main fields that they wanted to cooperate in, adding a group of Turkish experts would be visiting El Salvador to evaluate the existing warning system in the country.
During the interview, the central American foreign minister also expressed his will to enhance trade ties with Turkey.
"We would like to sign a bilateral free trade agreement, followed by a regional one. This would enable us to boost our trade relations," he said.
He called on Turkish businesses to invest in El Salvador "as soon as possible," noting the lack of any Turkish investment in the country.
Bonilla also called for an increase in tourism between the two countries.
"I would like to stress that our government and people are friends of Turkey. Our doors and arms are open to you," he said.
The first forum between Turkey and SICA was held in February 2015 in Guatemala, during which Turkey signed an agreement to become an extra-regional observer to the organization.
SICA was established in 1991 to extend cooperation among Central American countries for regional peace, democracy and economic development.
It has eight member states -- Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Panama, Costa Rica, Belize and Dominican Republic -- and 10 extra-regional observers, including Germany, Spain, Japan and China.