World

NEW DELHI – India has dismissed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s suggestion of multilateral talks on the Kashmir dispute, asserting that “its disputes with Pakistan must be settled bilaterally”.

At a meeting on Monday between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, India firmly explained to the visiting leader that “the issue of Kashmir is essentially an issue of terrorism”, the Hindustan Times reported.

Ahead of his visit, Mr Erdogan had in a television interview suggested a “multilateral dialogue” on Kashmir, offering to mediate between India and Pakistan.

At the meeting, the Turkish leader assured India of his country’s full support in the fight against terrorism, which PM Modi described as a “shared worry”.

Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Gopal Baglay said, in a veiled reference to Pakistan that the Kashmir issue has a “prominent dimension of cross-border terrorism” that needs to be stopped by “those who are perpetuating it.

“Our case essentially was that Kashmir is an issue of terrorism that has dogged us for 40 years, cross-border terrorism and state-sponsored terror,” Baglay told a news briefing.

“As far as the issue is concerned, we are ready to address any issue between India and Pakistan bilaterally through peaceful means as has been stipulated in the Simla Agreement and Lahore Declaration.”

Baglay added that India was always ready to talk about Kashmir and all other issues with Pakistan so that “peaceful solutions can be found bilaterally”.

The MEA spokesperson said the Turkish president and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also held lengthy discussions on terrorism this week during Erdogan’s two-day visit to India.

Both parties agreed that there was no justification for terrorism, and urged all countries to disrupt terrorist networks and financing and “stop cross-border movements of terrorists,” Balgay said.

The Turkish president’s offer was, however, welcomed by Hurriyet leaders in India-held Kashmir.

Hurriyet Forum Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq observed that the Turkish president “is well aware of how the Kashmir dispute is the main source of tension between the two nations [India and Pakistan].”

“Turkey being an important Islamic country, and having cordial relations with both India and Pakistan, will hopefully make efforts to end the political uncertainly prevalent in the region since decades,” Farooq said.

“Being an active member of Kashmir Contact Group at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Turkey has always advocated the solution of Kashmir issue in accordance with the aspirations of the people of Kashmir, and Ankara can play a vital role in the resolution of this issue to end the tension in this region,” he maintained.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is on a two-day official visit to India, held bilateral talks with PM Modi at Delhi’s Hyderabad House, after attending a meeting of businessmen from both countries, where the leaders called for aggressive efforts to deepen economic relations.