Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched his visit to Australia on Wednesday during which he will meet his counterpart John Howard and attempt to drum up trade and investment. Australia and Turkey have forged links based on both countries' memories of a bloody World War I battle in which their troops fought one another on the Gallipoli peninsula.
"The memories of a war can create not hatred at all times but also cooperation and friendship," Erdogan said through an interpreter at an official reception at the National Gallery of Victoria.
Erdogan is traveling with four senior government ministers and a large business delegation in a trip aimed at fostering economic ties. On Thursday he will discuss trade, counterterrorism and the war in Iraq with Howard when they meet in Canberra. Victoria state Premier Steve Bracks said that the Allies' withdrawal from the Gallipoli peninsula had begun exactly 90 years ago, on Dec. 7, 1915.
"That withdrawal did not just mark the beginning of the end of a terrible conflict," he said. "It also marked the beginning of what's become a mutual respect and an enduring friendship between Turkey and Australia, reports the AP. I.L.