By Sultan Cogalan and Fuat Kabakci
COLOMBO (AA) – Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, now on an official visit to Sri Lanka, said Wednesday in capital Colombo that the island-nation’s security and stability were of "high importance" due to its "strategic geography".
"I believe this visit will lead to a new phase in our relations," Cavusoglu asserted.
As part of his visit -- the first-ever visit to Sri Lanka by a Turkish foreign minister -- Cavusoglu met with his Sri Lankan counterpart, Mangala Samaraweera.
At a joint press conference held after the meeting, the Turkish FM called for stepped-up bilateral cooperation.
"The great distance between our two countries should not stop us from cooperating in numerous fields," he said.
"Sri Lanka is extending a hand to both Syrian and Iraqi refugees," he added. "This is highly appreciated."
"We are determined to strengthen our ties with Sri Lanka," Cavusoglu went on.
Ankara’s top diplomat added: "We have agreed to boost economic relations in numerous areas, including energy, security, tourism, education, culture and health, with a focus on humanitarian issues."
Samaraweera, for his part, said Sri Lanka appreciated Turkey’s ongoing humanitarian aid efforts, noting that the two countries had signed memorandums of understanding aimed at bolstering cooperation in the fields of economy and technology.
*Anadolu Agency correspondent Ahmet Sait Akcay contributed to this report from Ankara.