India’s Modi cancels Turkey visit over Kashmir remarks

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India has cancelled a two-day official visit to Ankara by Prime Minister Narendra Modi over President Tayyip Erdogan’s backing of Pakistan’s stance on the Kashmir dispute.

According to Indian news agency IANS, Modi was expected to proceeded to Turkey from Saudi Arabia, where he is going on October 27-28 to attend a mega investment summit.

The decision to cancel the visit to Turkey marks a low in relations between New Delhi and Ankara.

The Ministry of External Affairs tried to downplay the issue. “The visit was never finalised so there is no question of cancellation,” a MEA source told IANS.

Modi had last visited Turkey during the G20 in Antalya in 2015. He had held a bilateral with Erdogan in Osaka, on the sidelines of the G20 in June this year. The Turkish leader had paid a two-day visit to India in July 2018.

However, Erdogan’s strong backing of Pakistan’s position on Kashmir and alleging widespread human rights violations by India during his speech at the UN General Assembly last month has not gone down well with India.

In his speech, Erdogan had raised the issue of UN resolutions on Kashmir and alleged that “eight million people are stuck” in Kashmir due to revocation of special status. He had criticised the international community for failing to pay attention to the Kashmir issue.

India had slammed the statement, with the MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar asking Turkey “to get a proper understanding of the situation on the ground” before making statements on the Kashmir issue which is “completely internal to India”.