British pomp on show as Turkey's Gul starts state visit

22nd November 2011, Comments 0 comments

Turkish President Abdullah Gul was welcomed by Queen Elizabeth II on Tuesday at the start of a three-day state visit aimed at forging closer links between Britain and Turkey's emerging economy.

The two heads of state shook hands warmly as the hosts laid on the traditional pomp in a central London ceremony, with a 41-gun royal salute fired off and Gul inspecting lines of Coldstream Guards in their grey greatcoats.

Gul will hold talks later with Prime Minister David Cameron following lunch with the queen at Buckingham Palace.

Britain hopes the visit will forge stronger ties with Turkey, a growing economic power and an increasingly important trade partner straddling Europe and the Middle East.

Britain strongly supports Turkey's bid for membership of the European Union.

"Some people who think in a narrow scope and who do lack a strategic perspective consider Turkey's membership a burden," Gul told The Sunday Telegraph newspaper ahead of the visit.

"But those who can think 30 years, 60 years ahead, and who can think about the changing trends in the economy and the changing centres of power, can understand how much strength Turkey can bring to the existing strength of Europe.

"Consider the potential that Turkey has: Turkey's position, her assets, the value she can add in terms of energy resources, her population, the dynamism she can bring into Europe, and also the growth that she can bring, with Turkey being the engine of this growth."

Gul's visit will see him attend a state banquet and meet political leaders, while on Wednesday he will deliver a foreign policy speech expected to touch on Syria, tour the Olympic Park in east London and visit parliament.

© 2011 AFP

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