ISTANBUL, The Turkish and Ukrainian presidents pledged on Saturday to boost the strategic cooperation between their countries in a wide range of areas, with focus on trade and defense industry.

Speaking at a joint press conference following talks with his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko in Istanbul, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the two countries are determined to carry their strategic relations to a higher level.

Erdogan noted that he and Poroshenko agreed to map out the details of a treaty on free trade by the end of this year. "With this agreement, I believed that our trade volume would reach 10 billion U.S. dollars," said the Turkish leader.

He also highlighted fruitful cooperation with Ukraine in the field of defense industry as companies from the two countries are increasingly expanding joint projects.

Erdogan stated that Turkey has been backing Ukraine in international politics and has "never recognized the illegal annexation of Crimea and would never do."

"We strongly reiterated our stance on the preservation of Ukrainian sovereignty, territorial integrity and political unity," he added.

Crimea was incorporated into Russia in March 2014 following a local referendum, while Ukraine says the peninsula was annexed.

Speaking alongside Erdogan, Poroshenko said Ukraine and Turkey are aiming at expanding not only trade volume but also mutual investments.

"We have urged our sides to sign the free trade agreement as soon as possible," he said.

The Ukrainian leader came to Istanbul for the seventh high-level strategic cooperation council meeting with Turkey.

Source: NAM News Network