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Published: Sun, January 29, 2017
World | By Tasha Manning

May talks trade in Turkey for a fresh Brexit boost

May talks trade in Turkey for a fresh Brexit boost

"We have agreed to a joint working group, in order to prepare for post-Brexit trading relationship", May said, following talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara.

The refugee crisis is a "global issue" and to solve it we need greater cooperation among all worldwide powers, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said on Saturday.

The UK foreign minister Boris Johnson said on a visit to Ankara previous year that he was hoping for a "jumbo" free trade deal with Turkey after Brexit.

May's first visit to Turkey since she took office in July 2016 comes amid a massive crackdown on the plotters of a failed military coup against Erdogan.

Despite concerns about Erdoğan's human rights record and the increasingly authoritarian tone of his government, which has locked up thousands of political dissidents and protestors, a Downing Street spokeswoman said the two issues - human rights and trade - were distinct.

He also told reporters he hoped to increase annual trade with Britain to $20bn - up from $15.6bn now.

May's government is keen to start laying the groundwork for bilateral trade agreements for when Britain leaves the European Union - a process that will take at least two years after triggering the formal divorce talks by the end of March.

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"They will be discussing a new trade relationship (and) a strategic security partnership", she added.

During the visit, the UK-based BAE Systems and Turkish Aerospace Industries signed a Heads of Agreement document establishing a partnership for the continued development of the Turkish Fighter Programme (TF-X).

Meanwhile, Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said Mrs May should address alleged human rights violations "as a priority".

"The Conservative Brexit government is so desperate for trade deals with anyone but the mature democracies of the European Union that even the most unsavoury rulers are to be subjected to the prime ministerial charm", opposition Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Olney wrote in the Guardian newspaper.

"Now it is important Turkey sustains that democracy by maintaining the rule of law and upholding its global human rights obligations, as the government has undertaken to do".

Trump's sweeping ban on people seeking refuge in the United States is no solution to problems, Yildirim said on Saturday, adding that Western countries should do more to help ease Turkey's refugee burden.

The United Kingdom was the second-largest destination for Turkish exports in 2015, buying $10.6 billion in goods, according to International Monetary Fund trade data.

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