Erdogan's J&K remarks to worsen India-Turkey relations

Erdogan's support to Pakistan on J&K issue draws flak from India, may put further strain on relations

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan shake hands after signing of several agreements, in Islamabad, Pakistan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's remarks on Kashmir during his visit to Pakistan is likely to further sour Ankara's ties with New Delhi.

A day after Erdogan reiterated Turkey's support to Pakistan on the issue of Kashmir during a visit to Islamabad, New Delhi called upon Ankara to refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of India. A spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi on Saturday said that India rejected all references made in connection to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) in the speech delivered by Turkish President during a speech at Pakistan Parliament, as well as in the joint statement issued after his meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.

India's relations with Turkey turned sour over the past few months, particularly after Erdogan referred to the issue of Kashmir in his speech at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2019. He criticized the August 5 decision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Government in New Delhi to strip Jammu and Kashmir of its special status and to reorganize the state into two Union Territories.

Modi cancelled proposed visit to Ankara after Turkish President echoed Pakistan Prime Minister on the issue of Kashmir at the UNGA in September 2019.

Turkish President was on a visit to Pakistan on Friday. He addressed the lawmakers of the neighbouring country during a joint session of both Houses of its Parliament.

He said that the issue of Kashmir was as close to the hearts of people of Turkey as it was to Pakistanis. He said that “Kashmiri brothers and sisters” had suffered “for decades” and their suffering turned “graver” due to “unilateral steps taken in recent times”. He went on to say that that the issue of Kashmir could be resolved, not through “conflict or oppression”, but on the basis of “justice and fairness”. He said that Turkey would continue to support Pakistan on the issue of Kashmir.

The joint statement issued after Khan-Erdogan's meeting also had a reference to Kashmir. The two sides underscored the need “for resolution of all outstanding disputes between Pakistan and India, including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir through a sustained dialogue process and in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.”

“We rejects all references (in the latest Turkey-Pakistan joint statement) to Jammu and Kashmir, which is an integral and inalienable part of India,” Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, said in New Delhi. “We call upon the Turkish leadership to not interfere in India's internal affairs and develop proper understanding of the facts, including the grave threat posed by terrorism emanating from Pakistan to India and the region.”

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