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Turkey foreign minister travels to Rakhine State

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who is leading a delegation of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on a visit to Rakhine State, met with Burmese President Thein Sein in Naypyitaw on Thursday.

Burmese President Thein Sein, left, shakes hands with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu during a meeting in Naypyidaw on August 9, 2012. Davutoglu arrived in Burma on Thursday, and he will visit Rakhine State on Friday. Photo: AFPThe officials discussed events in Rakine State, where the foreign minister is scheduled to deliver material aid and medicine on Friday.

Davutoglu, who is also the OIC secretary, will travel to the riot-hit Rakhine State on a fact-finding mission and the result of the findings will be presented to the upcoming OIC meeting, said Turkish officials.

The Turkish foreign minister is the second foreign official to have access to Rakhine state to monitor the situation after United Nations human rights envoy Tomas Ojea Quintana ended his six-day trip last Saturday.

The discussion also included trade relations, with Davutoglu noting that the current trade figure of US$ 100 million a year is expected to increase to US$ 500 million in five years, according to an article in The New Light of Myanmar, the state-run newspaper, on Friday.

Officials expect to sign a memorandum of understanding on trade cooperation and investment deals, with Turkey keen to invest in edible oil manufacturing and the energy sector.

The Turkish International Cooperation Agency plans to establish a Burmese office to provide assistance to Burma in cooperation with local organizations, Davutoglu said.

While in Burma, the minister will visit a war cemetery in Meiktila, where Turkish soliders are buried.

Thein Sein said he was “disheartened by hairsplitting” in the media in reports about the unrest in Rakhine State. The pictures of “genocide” spreading on the Internet show incidents in another country, and not things happening in Burma, he said.

He said food and drugs for 60,000 homeless people are needed in Rakhine State. The government is cooperating with UN agencies and nine NGOs, he said, and disease prevention measures are being carried out in Rakhine State, which is experiencing heavy rains.