Vice-President Hamid Ansari arrived in Turkey on Monday on a six-day visit that is aimed at providing a fillip to India’s trade ties with Turkey with focus on sectors like infrastructure and IT.

During the visit, India would look at cooperation in sectors like infrastructure, IT, automobiles and engineering.

Mr. Ansari’s visit is also likely to give a boost to the efforts for setting up a free trade agreement between India and Turkey, officials said.

A joint study group is currently examining the feasibility of this measure. Bolstering of bilateral and trade relations will top the agenda of Mr. Ansari’s visit.

The delegation accompanying the Vice President includes Minister for Social Welfare and Justice Mukul Wasnik, senior CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury and MPs Ranjitsingh Vijaysinh Patil, Vijay Pal Singh and Imgrid McLeod, along with a group of Indian businessman.

The Vice President is also accompanied by his wife Salma Ansari.

Mr. Ansari will also be participating in a business forum at the Turkish Chamber of Businessmen and Industrialists at Istanbul where he will talk about Indo-Turkish economic and commercial cooperation and the opportunities available in India, to an audience which will include both Turkish and Indian business captains.

Briefing reporters about the visit, Secretary (West), Ministry of External Affairs Madhusudan Ganpathi said in New Delhi that the whole gamut of international and regional issues of mutual interest will come up during the visit. The tour concludes on October 15.

This is the first high-level Indian delegation to visit Turkey since 2003 when the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had gone there. Late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had visited the country in 1998.

Mr. Ganpathi said the visit will provide additional impetus and momentum towards further consolidation and strengthening of the broad-based, multifaceted and comprehensive partnership between India and Turkey in areas of mutual interest and benefit.

There will be a personal touch for Mr. Ansari also as his great-granduncle M.A. Ansari had led a medical mission to Turkey in 1911-1912 to provide aid to the Turkish army in the Balkan Wars.

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