Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday he was ready to help combat terrorism in Nigeria, where Boko Haram fighters have killed thousands of people in a bloody campaign for a hard-line Islamic state.

He also signed a memorandum on trade and economic cooperation, which Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said was “just the beginning of what we have in the pipeline.”

Speaking after talks with Buhari in Abuja, Erdogan commiserated with Nigerians fighting insurgents, saying he felt their pain.

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“As a country combating terrorism for a long time now, every reprehensible terrorist attack that takes place here in Nigeria deeply hurts our heart,” Erdogan said to reporters at the presidential villa.

“We are always ready to cooperate with Nigeria when it comes to combating terrorism.”

Security was a recurring theme in the Turkish leader’s stops in Ivory Coast and Ghana prior to Nigeria during a visit designed to strengthen economic ties with members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

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On Tuesday, Erdogan told Ghana’s parliament that Turkey can “contribute tremendously to the establishment of global peace and security.”

He will cap off his visit to the region with a stop in Guinea.

Traditionally focused on North Africa, Turkey in the past decade has paid increasing attention to the fast-growing economies of sub-Saharan Africa.

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It has more than tripled its embassies in Africa since 2009 while flag carrier Turkish Airlines has dozens of destinations on the continent.

“Turkey is not currently a major trading partner for either Nigeria or Ghana, nor is Turkey one of the main foreign investors,” Cobus de Hart, economist at NKC African Economics in South Africa, told AFP.