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India-Pakistan need to build bridges: Turkish President

01 May, 2017

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NEW DELHI: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who arrived here on Sunday on a two-day visit, has said that India and Pakistan need to “build bridges, strengthen dialogue between different stakeholders” to resolve the Kashmir dispute.

The Turkish leader praised Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as a well-meaning friend with whom he had discussed the Kashmir issue many times.

Mr Erdogan, who will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, said in an interview to TV news channel WION that Kashmir question upset both countries and “surmounting the Kashmiri challenge will contribute tremendously to the global peace”.

Indian Express quoted a translation of his remarks as saying: “The relations between India and Pakistan if we dig and (go) closer, I can confidently say that the relations between the two nations are improving on a daily basis which makes me very happy. But this Kashmir question, this question saddens us deeply because I think this is a question that upsets both of the countries involved and surmounting the Kashmiri challenge will contribute tremendously to the global peace.”

Pointing out that the 70-year-old issue will hurt future generations, the Turkish president said: “For the last seven decades, this question (Kashmir issue) has not been settled. And I believe, doing so will provide relief to both the countries. Extending conflicts, extending questions and carrying these questions to the future will be unfair to the future generations because they will have to pay the price. And right next to the prosperity of the Kashmiri people we need security and stability in South Asia. We want this region to be peaceful. We want to win friends wherever we go.”

Mr Erdogan’s comments came amid a clampdown on the internet in India-held Kashmir, where it is now more difficult to surmise the state of stress and trauma the people are going through in the heavily militarised zone.

Mr Erdogan said that both India and Pakistan are Turkey’s friends and they must keep the dialogue channels open and engage different stakeholders.

“India is our friend in the region. Pakistan is our friend in the region. And there are certain aspects that contribute tremendously to our ancient relations. In terms of faith, in India, we have followers of the Muslim faith. And in Pakistan there are Muslims and this brings us even closer.

“We have to build bridges, strengthen dialogue between different stakeholders. We shouldn’t allow more casualties to occur. We should strengthen multilateral dialogue. We can be involved in multilateral dialogues. I think we have to seek out ways to settle this question once and for all. It will provide great benefits to both the countries.”

Mr Sharif is a well-meaning person, Mr Erdogan said, and he had been discussing these issues with him at length.

“My dear friend, the prime minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif, is an individual with whom I have been discussing these issues at length and I know he is a man of good intentions. I know he is a good intended man. I heard him personally speak of his will to settle this question once and for all. So if we keep the dialogue channels open, we can settle this question once and for all. And all around the world, there is no better option than to keep the channels of dialogue open if we have to contribute to global peace.”

Earlier, Ilnur Cevik, Senior Adviser to President Erdogan, said in New Delhi that Turkey would be interested in nuclear cooperation with India “and all other peaceful countries that seek peaceful use of nuclear technology”.

Turkey’s position on India’s bid for permanent membership in the UN Security Council is different. Mr Cevik said his country wanted the five permanent members of the world body to give up their veto powers. Turkey is a member of the group called Uniting for Consensus that is opposed to the expansion of permanent seats in the Security Council.

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