Turkish-Syrian strategic council to meet this weekend
The Turkish and Syrian Cabinets will meet jointly this weekend to examine every aspect of bilateral relations, from security to energy, with terrorism among the top issues. Diplomats say this will pave the way for a full gathering with the two countries' prime ministers later this year. The meeting will take place in Syria's main Mediterranean seaport, Latakia, some 350 km northwest of Damascus, on Oct. 2-3. The meeting will be co-chaired by the Turkish and Syrian foreign ministers and attended by 10 cabinet ministers from both sides. Turkey established the joint cooperation council with Syria last year as part of its "zero problems with its neighbors" policy. A number of projects are expected to be discussed at the meeting. The Turkish government aims at upgrading its economic cooperation with Syria into economic integration and to triple their bilateral trade volume, which was $1.8 billion in 2008. Cyprus is also expected to be discussed. Ankara is pressing Syrian officials to let the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus open an office in Damascus. In education, joint higher education license programs between Turkish and Syrian universities will be under consideration.