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Turkey, Qatar express 'common concern' over Syria

Turkish president, Qatari emir reiterate 'support for Palestinian independence, the only colonised country in the modern world'
Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani (L) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) in Ankara, Turkey on 19 December, 2014 (AA)

Turkey and Qatar share the same concerns in Syria and Iraq, said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday during a visit by the Gulf royal to Ankara.

Addressing a joint press conference with visiting Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani at the presidential palace in Ankara, Erdogan said "standing together with the oppressed people of the world has always been our common concern."

Al-Thani said Turkey and Qatar had both correctly anticipated the Syria crisis. 

Referring to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the Emir said "we criticized Syrian regime's attitude together. We had already warned that the violence of the regime in Syria would lead to the rise of more violent organizations."

"We also reiterated our support for Palestinian independence, the only colonised country in the modern world," he added.

Turkey and Qatar also signed a defence cooperation agreement during al-Thani’s visit.

"The historic experience of Turkish army will contribute to a stronger Qatari army," the Qatari Emir said.

The Turkish president also highlighted economic ties between Turkey and Qatar. 

While he praised the $15 billion investments of Turkish companies in Qatar, Erdogan said the $600 million trade volume between the two countries needed further boost.

Erdogan and al-Thani also signed a memorandum on establishing a High Level Cooperation Council between the two countries that would further enhance economic and political cooperation.

The two leaders held bilateral talks Friday that also focused on energy trade between the two countries.

When Erdogan visited Qatar on 15 September, Turkey inked a one-year agreement to buy 1.2 billion cubic meters of Liquefied Natural Gas from the gulf state.

Turkey imports most of its LNG from Algeria and Nigeria.

Turkey and Qatar have similar foreign policy stance on various issues, including the Syria crisis, where both sides agree that the fight against Islamic State (IS) militants should not dwarf efforts to dismantle Assad's "terrorism" in the country.

Syria's civil war began in March 2011 as a peaceful protest movement inspired by the pro-democracy Arab Spring and demanding Assad's ouster, but morphed into a brutal war after pro-Assad forces unleashed a massive crackdown against dissent.

The war has resulted in the deaths of an estimated 200,000 people, and displaced roughly half of the country's population, according to the UN. 

The majority of fatalities are reportedly of civilians, primarily killed by pro-Assad forces, although other groups are also implicated.

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