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Ankara-Paris partnership 'vital' for peace: Erdogan

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Istanbul (AFP)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday said that a strong partnership between Ankara and Paris was vital for world peace as he headed on a key visit to France.

Erdogan's one-day visit to Paris to meet French President Emmanuel Macron is his most significant trip to an EU state for bilateral talks since the failed 2016 coup bid in Turkey, which led to a hugely controversial mass crackdown.

"I believe that cooperation between Turkey and France is of vital importance for regional and international peace," Erdogan told reporters at Istanbul Ataturk airport before boarding his plane.

"With Macron, we are in close contact on many issues," the president said. "I care a lot about this visit on the basis of a comprehensive and strong partnership."

The Turkish head of state said the two leaders would discuss economic, trade, defence ties as well as the fight against terror and regional conflicts in Syria and Iraq as well as Libya.

Erdogan said they would discuss the planned purchase of ground to air missiles from a French-Italian consortium Eurosam for which a letter of intent was signed in November.

He emphasised that Turkey wanted to increase bilateral trade with France from its current $13.5 billion (11.1 billion euros) to 20 billion euros.

Turkish officials including Erdogan have made clear Ankara wants better relations with the EU in 2018 after a torrid 2017.

Ankara also wants to improve ties with Berlin -- after Turkish-German relations hit a deep crisis in 2017 -- and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is heading there for talks at the weekend.

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