Strategic issues, including India’s NSG membership bid and ways to strengthen cooperation in counter-terrorism and trade are expected to be discussed during the visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s from April 30. The overnight visit comes barely days after a referendum in Turkey on April 16 on whether to change the country from a parliamentary democracy to an executive structure led by the president.
The Turkish president will hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 1 on key bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest.
With Turkey being a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the issue of India’s membership bid of the elite group is likely to figure during the talks between the two leaders.
When asked whether the issue of NSG will figure during the talks, Ruchi Ghanashyam, Secretary (West) in the External Affairs Ministry did not give a direct answer and said, “We remain engaged with Turkey.”
Turkey is not opposed to India’s NSG membership but has been maintaining that the powerful bloc should come out with a system to consider entry of the countries which are not signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), diplomatic sources said.
China has been opposing India’s membership of the NSG on the ground that it is not a signatory to the NPT.
Asked about Turkey’s statements on Jammu and Kashmir and its support to Pakistan, Ghanashyam said India is aware that Turkey has very close relationship with Pakistan and it is their bilateral matter.
“We have always emphasized that India-Turkey relations stand on their own footing and, we believe, the Turkish side reciprocates our sentiment,” she added.
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However, she did not respond when asked if India will raise the issue.
About projects by Turkey in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, including participation in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, she said India’s position on the state of Jammu and Kashmir is very well known that it is an integral part of the country.
Enhancing anti-terror cooperation will be among the focus areas during the Erdogen-Modi talks.
Ghanashyam said both countries have been victims of terrorism and are battling it.
After a failed coup in July last year to topple Erdogan, Turkey had blamed Fethullah Gulen Terrorist Organisation (FETO) for it and said the outfit has “infiltrated” India.
Turkey had also asked India to take action against the organisation.
Asked about the action taken by India so far, she said Turkey had raised it with the government, which has noted their concern.
Calling the FETO is “secretive transnational criminal network” with presence around the world, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, during a visit here last year, had said, “Unfortunately, the FETO has also infiltrated India through associations and schools.”
Asked if the timing of the Turkish president’s visit, which immediately comes after the ongoing trip of the Cyprus president, was part of India’s balancing act, MEA Spokesperson Gopal Baglay said the timings were based on the convenience of the leaders.
Issues relating to regional security, situation in the Middle East, particularly Syria, are likely to figure during talks between Modi and Erdogan.