India on Monday dismissed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's suggestion of multilateral talks on the Kashmir dispute, insisting the matter must be resolved bilaterally through talks between Islamabad and New Delhi, the Hindustan Times reported.
Erdogan had, in an interview before his arrival in India earlier this week, suggested that the two countries needed to 'strengthen multilateral dialogue' in an attempt to find a solution to the Kashmir issue.
Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Gopal Baglay said, in a veiled reference to Pakistan that the Kashmir issue has a "prominent dimension of cross-border terrorism" that needs to be stopped by "those who are perpetuating it.
"Our case essentially was that Kashmir is an issue of terrorism that has dogged us for 40 years, cross-border terrorism and state-sponsored terror," Baglay told a news briefing.
"As far as the issue is concerned, we are ready to address any issue between India and Pakistan bilaterally through peaceful means as has been stipulated in the Simla Agreement and Lahore Declaration."
Baglay added that India was always ready to talk about Kashmir and all other issues with Pakistan so that "peaceful solutions can be found bilaterally".
The MEA spokesperson said the Turkish president and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also held lengthy discussions on terrorism this week during Erdogan's two-day visit to India.
Both parties agreed that there was no justification for terrorism, and urged all countries to disrupt terrorist networks and financing and "stop cross-border movements of terrorists," Balgay said.
The Turkish president's offer was, however, welcomed by Hurriyet leaders in India-held Kashmir.
Hurriyet Forum Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq observed that the Turkish president "is well aware of how the Kashmir dispute is the main source of tension between the two nations [India and Pakistan]."
"Turkey being an important Islamic country, and having cordial relations with both India and Pakistan, will hopefully make efforts to end the political uncertainly prevalent in the region since decades," Farooq said.
"Being an active member of Kashmir Contact Group at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Turkey has always advocated the solution of Kashmir issue in accordance with the aspirations of the people of Kashmir, and Ankara can play a vital role in the resolution of this issue to end the tension in this region," he maintained.
Erdogan asks India to act against Feto
The Turkish president, during his trip, also raised concerns about the Fethullah Terrorist Organisation (Feto).
Ankara has demanded schools in India administered by a foundation linked to Fethullah Gulen ─ a US-based preacher who Erdogan accuses of instigating a failed coup in Turkey last year ─ be shut down.
"As far as the Turkish concerns about Feto are concerned, they were mentioned to us. Any organisation in India, whether it is Indian or foreign, obviously has to work within the parameters of our laws and our norms and regulations," Baglay said.
The Turkish side also expressed supported for India’s bid to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group, Indian media reported.