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Turkey's Erdogan Praises Britain As 'Real Friend' During U.K. Visit

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (file photo)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan praised Britain as "an ally and a strategic partner, but also a real friend" as he began a three-day visit to the United Kingdom.

"I see the strategic partnership between Turkey and the U.K. as a necessity, rather than a simple choice, for the interests of the two countries," he told a British-Turkish forum in the city of Reading on May 13.

"The cooperation we have with the U.K. is well beyond any mechanism that we established with other partners."

Erdogan said that, in July 2016, the British government quickly condemned an antigovernment coup in Turkey and said "we will never forget this solidarity."

Erdogan said he wanted to increase trade and security ties between the two countries as Britain prepares to leave the European Union in March 2019, the so-called Brexit process.

"We are ready to cooperate more with the in every field," Erdogan said.

Turkey's relations with the EU have deteriorated in recent years, with membership talks virtually halted after harsh criticism from the West over Ankara's crackdown against domestic opponents since the failed coup.

The Turkish leader is scheduled to meet Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Theresa May on May 15.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP