While Pakistan welcomed on Monday Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s offer to strengthen the dialogue process for resolving the Kashmir issue, New Delhi asserted that it was an Indo-Pak bilateral matter, “essentially due to cross-border terrorism”.
Ahead of his arrival in New Delhi, President Erdogan had remarked that India and Pakistan were both friends of Turkey and he wanted to help strengthen the dialogue process among the stakeholders for resolving the Kashmir issue.
Erdogan had also called for a multilateral approach to settle the Jammu and Kashmir dispute while calling for an immediate end to bloodshed in Indian Occupied Kashmir.
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New Delhi’s virtual rejection of Erdogan's suggestion came in the course of his discussion with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during which the two countries held that "no intent or goal or reason or rationale can validate terrorism" and decided to work together to deepen cooperation, both bilaterally and multilaterally, to effectively counter this menace, the Press Trust of India reported.
Erdogan also assured India of his country's full support in the fight against terrorism as he held ‘extensive’ discussion on this evolving threat with Modi, who described it as a ‘shared worry’.
In response to the question on Erdogan’s proposal, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Gopal Baglay said India's position that Kashmir is its integral part is very sharp and publicly known.
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"We conveyed our viewpoint clearly on terrorism and Kashmir [to the Turkish side]. It was made clear that there cannot be any justification for terrorism, whatever is the intent. We clearly conveyed that the issue of Kashmir is essentially an issue of terrorism.”
Earlier, addressing a joint media event with Erdogan, Modi said countries across the world needed to "work as one to disrupt the terrorist networks and their financing and put a stop to cross-border movement of terrorists".
Condemning on the April 24 Naxal attack in Sukma in which 25 CRPF personnel were killed, Erdogan said, "Turkey will always be by the side of India in full solidarity while battling terrorism... And terrorists will be drowned in the blood they shed."
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Asked if there was a difference of opinion on the definition of terrorism as Modi talked about cross-border terrorists and Erdogan mentioned the Fethullah Gulen Terrorist Organisation (FETO), Baglay said there was a convergence on condemning terrorism and an agreement that it was a menace which needed to be tackled effectively.
The spokesperson also said the Turkish side mentioned the presence of FETO [in India]. "Any organisation in India has to work within the parameters of our laws, rules and regulations," he added, without mentioning if India has assured action against the group.
For a failed coup in July last year to topple Erdogan, Turkey had blamed the FETO and said the outfit had infiltrated India.
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"We will never bow down to terrorism or the propaganda of the terror outfits," Erdogan, who also invoked Mahatma Gandhi, said. He said terror outfits will never be able to "shackle our resolve" to combat the menace.
Modi and the Turkish leader had a comprehensive discussion and took stock of full range of bilateral relations, including political and economic, the external affairs ministry said.
Referring to changing times where societies face new threats and challenges every day, Modi said the context and contours of some of the existing and emerging security challenges globally are "our common concern".
Discussing trade, Erdogan said that Turkey's $6.5 billion annual trade volume with India is "not enough" and should be boosted. "I think it would be beneficial to raise it to $10 billion," he said.
Erdogan also said he believed India would take steps to expel the domestic network of Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen who Ankara accuses of orchestrating a failed coup in July. (with additional input from Reuters)