UPDATE 2-Turkey and UAE sign trade and industry agreements during Erdogan’s visit

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(Adds details of signed agreements, comment from UAE Minister)

DUBAI, Feb 14 (Reuters) – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan arrived in the United Arab Emirates on Monday as the countries turn to economic cooperation with a flurry of deals in his first visit to the Gulf state since 2013.

The Emirati States News Agency reported that 13 agreements were signed during, including on trade, industry, health and medical sciences, land and sea transport and climate action.

Turkish news agency Anadolu said a defense agreement had been signed.

Erdogan met with the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, who visited Ankara last November when investment deals worth billions dollars were signed.

“During this visit, we aim to build on the momentum we have gained with the UAE and take the necessary steps to bring relations back to the level they deserve,” Erdogan told reporters. Istanbul Atatürk Airport before departure.

“Dialogue and cooperation between Turkey and the UAE are of great importance for the peace and stability of our entire region,” he added.

The UAE and Turkey signed a joint statement on launching negotiations for a bilateral trade and investment agreement, known as the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), WAM said.

Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani Al Zeyoudi told Reuters that the United Arab Emirates expects trade with Turkey to increase significantly once CEPA comes into force, that he hopes the two parties could finalize within six months.

The UAE and Turkey have been vying for regional influence since Arab uprisings erupted a decade ago, a rivalry that has seen them back different sides in Libya’s civil war and spill over into disputes in the eastern Mediterranean in the Gulf.

The warming in diplomatic relations comes as Turkey faces economic turmoil and the UAE pursues a more conciliatory foreign policy driven by economic priorities.

Last month, the two countries reached an agreement to swap nearly $5 billion in local currencies.

Erdogan said that during his visit, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates would seek to boost bilateral trade and seek opportunities in “the complementary structures of the two countries’ economies”.

Turkey, at odds with several regional powers as well as its Western allies on various issues, launched a regional charm offensive last year. But efforts with Egypt and Saudi Arabia have so far brought little public improvement.

(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu and Orhan Coskun in Ankara, Yousef Saba and Alexander Cornwell in Dubai Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Peter Graff)

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