Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday assured India of his country’s full support in the fight against terrorism as he held “extensive” discussion on this evolving threat with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who described it as a “shared worry”.
Holding that “no intent or goal or reason or rationale can validate terrorism”, Modi, at a joint press event with Erdogan, said the two sides have decided to work together to deepen cooperation, both bilaterally and multilaterally, to effectively counter this menace.
In an obvious reference to Pakistan-based terror groups, Modi said countries across the world need to “work as one to disrupt the terrorist networks and their financing and put a stop to cross-border movement of terrorists”.
They also need to stand and act against those that conceive and create, support and sustain, shelter and spread these instruments and ideologies of violence, the prime minister added.
Condemning the Naxal attack on Central Reserve Police Force personnel on April 24 in Sukma, in which 25 of them 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.”
Ahead of his visit to India, Erdogan had pitched for a multilateral dialogue to resolve the Kashmir issue to ensure peace in the region.
“We should not allow more casualties to occur (in Kashmir). By having a multilateral dialogue, (in which) we can be involved, we can seek ways to settle the issue once and for all,” he had told a TV channel in an interview.
The remarks are contrary to the position of India, which maintains that the Jammu and Kashmir issue is a bilateral matter between it and Pakistan, and that there is no scope for a third party mediation.
The Turkish president also referred to the Fethullah Gulen Terrorist Organisation and said the outfit is active in 170 countries. He said the Turkish government has informed the countries about FETO’s operations and hoped India will take action against it.
After a failed coup in July last year to topple Erdogan, Turkey had blamed FETO for it and said the outfit has “infiltrated” India. Turkey had also asked India to take action against the organisation.
“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 visiting dignitary had comprehensive discussion and took stock of full range of bilateral relations, including political and economic.
Referring to changing times where societies face new threats and challenges every day, Modi said the context and contours of some of the exiting and emerging security challenges globally are “our common concern”.
“In particular, the constantly evolving threat from terrorism is our shared worry. I held an extensive conversion with the Turkish president on this subject. We agreed that no intent or goal or reason or rationale can validate terrorism,” the prime minister said.
The two leaders, who addressed a India-Turkey business forum earlier in the day, also pitched for enhanced trade and business ties.
Observing that India and Turkey are two large economies which present an enormous opportunity to expand and deepen commercial linkages, Modi said at the level of the two governments, there is a need to approach the entire landscape of business opportunities in a strategic and long-term manner.
“Our bilateral trade turnover of around $6 billion does not do full justice to convergences in our economies. Clearly, the business and industry on both sides can do much more,” he added.
He further said, “We would like to encourage stronger partnership of Turkish companies with our flagship programmes and projects, either on their own or in collaboration with the Indian companies.”
Erdogan also emphasised the need to increase bilateral trade to at least $10 billion, as soon as possible, and added that the countries will look at ways to expand cooperation in the energy and infrastructure sectors, in particular.
After the Modi-Erdogan meet, the two sides exchanged three pacts, including one between their telecom authorities.
This is Erdogan’s first foreign tour after winning a controversial referendum on April 16 that further consolidated his executive powers.
The Turkish leader arrived on Sunday on a two-day visit.
In his media statement, Modi also referred to Rumi and Sufi tradition in India. “While Rumi found his home in Turkey, his legacy continues to enrich the Sufi traditions of India as well.”