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Turkey to help Syria set up bourse in Damascus

(AFP) / 9 January 2004

ISTANBUL - Turkish authorities told visiting Syrian President Bashar Al Assad yesterday they would fully support his declared ambition to open a stock exchange in Damascus.

"We are ready to provide every kind of service," Turkish Foreign Trade Minister Kursad Tuzman told Assad at the Istanbul stock exchange on the third and final day of his state visit to Turkey, the first by a Syrian president.

The president of the Istanbul exchange, Osman Birsan, was also present.

"We are planning to open a stock exchange in Damascus and we are asking for you to help our minister of planning and minister of finance" in preparing the ground-work, said Assad.

A Syrian source suggested that a delegation from the Turkish stock exchange may visit Damascus this month to discuss details of the plan. The Syrian finance minister may also visit Turkey at the end of January, the source said.

Assad's state visit has been hailed as an historic turning-point in relations between the two neighbouring countries, which came close to war in 1998 over Syria's support for Kurdish rebels in Turkey. 

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