ANKARA, May 12 (Xinhua) -- Turkey will play a key role in the Belt and Road Initiative as its geographical and cultural bridge links with east and west, and it's an indispensable partner with China, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of his visit to China and attendance of the Belt and Road International Cooperation Forum in Beijing, Erdogan said that the initiative proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 is "highly significant and historic, aiming at establishing a comprehensive infrastructure, transportation, investment, energy and trade network."
"During this visit, we will take concrete steps, for which we have made preparations earlier, towards improving structure and context of bilateral relations and boosting cooperation," Erdogan stressed.
The efforts will definitely have an positive impact not only on Turkey-China relations, but also worldwide, he noted.
Erdogan pledged that as an indispensable participant, Turkey is providing a strong support to Beijing's initiative to revive the ancient Silk Road.
"We will start operation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project in 2017, as an important step in the Middle Corridor plan of the country," he said.
The Belt and Road International Cooperation Forum will be held on May 14 and 15 in Beijing, which will be attended by more than 1,500 delegates, including officials, academics, entrepreneurs and representatives from financial institutions and international organizations.
The initiative refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt that links China with Europe through Central and Western Asia by inland routes, and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road connecting China with Southeast Asia, Africa and Europe by sea.
The network spreads through over 60 countries and regions, with a total population of 4.4 billion.