New Delhi: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are holding bilateral talks at Delhi's Hyderabad House on Monday afternoon, after attending a meeting of businessmen from both countries, where the leaders called for aggressive efforts to deepen economic relations. It is, however, Mr Erdogan's controversial comments on Kashmir in a television interview that have so far headlined his visit.
- Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan is on a 2-day official visit to India
- He attended a business event in Delhi with PM Narendra Modi
- He will be presented with an honorary degree by Jamia Milia Islamia
Ahead of his arrival in India on Sunday evening, Mr Erdogan suggested a "multi-lateral dialogue" on Kashmir, offering to mediate between India and Pakistan.
"We should not allow more casualties to occur. By having a multi-lateral dialogue, (in which) we can be involved, we can seek ways to settle the issue once and for all," Mr Erdogan, who is on a two-day visit to India, told WION news channel.
He said India and Pakistan are both friends of Turkey and he wants to help strengthen the dialogue process. India firmly rules out third party mediation on Kashmir.
"We have been victims of state-sponsored terrorism for over 40 years. We have been ready for talks always as per the Shimla and Lahore agreement," said Gopal Baglay, a foreign ministry spokesperson. Turkey, he said, was told that Kashmir is a bilateral issue which needs to be resolved peacefully. "The Turkish side listened to our views carefully and with concern," he added.
This is Turkish President Erdogan's first foreign visit after winning a controversial referendum on April 16 that further consolidated his executive powers. His visit is focused on trade and about 150 businessmen have accompanied him. Discussions on India's entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group and counter-terrorism are also high on the agenda in his talks with PM Narendra Modi. A joint statement is expected after the meeting.
This evening, the Turkish President will visit Delhi's Jamia Millia Islamia University, which is presenting him with an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters.
"India and Turkey enjoy good economic ties," PM Modi said at the business event this morning, adding that, "while this is encouraging, the level of present economic and commercial relations is not enough against the real potential. As we strive to build stronger political ties, the time has come to also make more aggressive effort to deepen the economic relations."
Mr Erdogan said Monday's meeting "marks a new era of business relations." He said that joint trade between India and Turkey should be balanced and that his country can assist in India's need for rapid development of infrastructure.