Turkey and Vietnam look to double trade, deepen defense ties

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, left, shakes hands with his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc before the two headed for talks behind closed doors in Hanoi, Vietnam Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017. Yildirim is on a two-day visit to the Southeast Asian country to boost trade and defense ties between the two countries. (AP Photo/Tran Van Minh)
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, center right, and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc, center left, review an honor guard in Hanoi, Vietnam Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017. Yildirim is on a two-day visit to the Southeast Asian country to boost trade and defense ties between the two countries. (AP Photo/Tran Van Minh)
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, center right, talks to his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc, center left, as they walk to a meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017. Yildirim is on a two-day visit to the Southeast Asian country to boost trade and defense ties between the two countries. (AP Photo/Tran Van Minh)

HANOI, Vietnam — Turkey's prime minister said Wednesday he wants to double trade volume with Vietnam to $4 billion in the next three years as his country seeks to boost cooperation with the Southeast Asian country.

Binali Yildirim was making his first visit to Vietnam as prime minister, accompanied by a large business delegation.

"I believe that our bilateral trade volume will reach $4 billion by 2020 and that's doable," Yildirim told reporters during a briefing with his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc. The bilateral trade currently stands at $2 billion a year.

Phuc told reporters the two committed to creating favorable conditions for businesses from both countries to promote mutual trade and investment.

"There are special areas where our mutual cooperation can immediately be initiated, primarily the defense industry," Yildirim said during talks with Vietnam's prime minister.

Details on defense cooperation were not immediately disclosed, but Vietnam has in recent years sought to modernize its military with the purchase of six submarines and new jet fighters from Russia, its traditional weapons supplier, in the face of Chinese assertiveness in pressing Beijing's territorial claims in disputed South China Sea waters.

China claims most of the South China Sea, which is believed to sit on rich natural resources and occupies important international sea lanes.

The two prime ministers stressed that disputes should be resolved through peaceful means in line with international law.

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