Hours before Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan kicked off his two-day state visit to India he made an offer that New Delhi will certainly refuse. Speaking to a news channel, Erdogan offered Turkey's hand in mediating a multilateral dialogue to settle the Kashmir dispute—a subject that New Delhi has for long treated as bilateral. "We shouldn't allow more casualties to occur (in Jammu & Kashmir). And by strengthening multilateral dialogues, we can be involved.
And through the multilateral dialogue, we have to seek out for ways to settle this question once and for all, which will provide benefits to both of the countries," he said. For the uninitiated, this is a position that many of the world's major powers have taken up, contrary to New Delhi's position that only a bilateral resolution to the Kashmir dispute is kosher, and that other third parties need not involve themselves.
Pakistan has long sought to internationalise the conflict. Erdogan's position was in line with the Pakistan-Turkey Joint Statement late last year. The Indian government has responded in kind. "Our position on the State of Jammu and Kashmir is very well known and ... the entire State of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of the territory of India," said an official from the Ministry of External Affairs. Going by the Simla Pact of 1972, the Indian government only seeks a resolution of the Kashmir through bilateral means and refuses the intervention of any third party. Even on India's bid for membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group, Erdogan has taken a stand that might irk New Delhi.
"Both India and Pakistan have the right to aspire for NSG membership. I think India should not assume such an attitude. If Turkey was fair enough to support Pakistan, it was fair enough to support India. We are very objective and positive to the NSG process," he reportedly told a TV channel.
Tagging India's bid for membership with Pakistan is not something that New Delhi envisions. These comments, however, should be put in context. The Indian government has expressed its willingness to support Cyprus's sovereignty and territorial integrity during the visit of its president last week. For the uninitiated, the small island nation has a long-standing territorial dispute with Turkey.
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