ANKARA: The presence of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the President of Turkey, to welcome Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as he arrived from Kuala Lumpur last night for his official four-day visit to the country was a big surprise for the media.
This was because in the official schedule, Erdogan would only meet the Malaysian Prime Minister in a bilateral meeting after the official welcome at the Presidential Complex this afternoon.
The special aircraft that carried Dr Mahathir and his wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali arrived at the Esenboga International Airport at 7.40pm local time (12.40am Malaysian time).
About 15 minutes later, Erdogan arrived in his jet at the same airport and the two leaders had a brief meeting for about 20 minutes in the VIP room.
It was learnt that the meeting there was planned at the last minute.
“Erdogan himself wanted to welcome Dr Mahathir but he said he would be a bit late,” said Dr Mahathir’s senior official Sufi Yusof.
Also present to welcome Dr Mahathir were Turkey’s Industry and Technology Minister Mustafa Varank and Turkey’s Governor Vasip Sahin.
Dr Mahathir is scheduled to have a bilateral meeting with Erdogan at 3.45pm (8.45pm Malaysian time).
This follows by a delegation meeting of both countries which will also be joined by Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu, and International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Darrel Leiking.
Dr Mahathir and Erdogan are expected to make a joint press conference before they head for dinner.