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Modi, Erdoğan bury Kashmir hatchet for now, discuss trade during bilateral meet in Uzbekistan

PM Modi and Turkish President Erdogan met on the margins of the SCO summit in Samarkand and discussed bilateral trade and investment, while keeping politics aside.

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Samarkand, Uzbekistan: India and Turkey have decided to give a fresh lease of life to their bilateral relationship by boosting two-way trade and investment, keeping aside the politics over Kashmir and Ankara’s close ties with Islamabad.

A thawing of ties between India and Turkey could be seen after a gap of more than three years as Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a bilateral meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the historic city of Samarkand, Uzbekistan, on the margins of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit that concluded Friday.

Turkey is one of the dialogue partners of the SCO, apart from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, among others.

While some initial signs of the ice breaking could be seen when External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar met his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu at Dushanbe in Tajikistan in April 2021, this was the first time the leaders of the two countries met in person since President Erdoğan’s last visit to India in 2017.

According to Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra, Modi and Erdoğan spoke about “recent gains in bilateral trade, which have been fairly extensive”.

“Trade is touching close to about USD 10 billion, clear, specific elements of deepening economic linkages and of course, as I said, developments in the region and all over the world,” Kwatra said.

Two-way trade in merchandise goods between India and Turkey reached USD 10.71 billion in 2021-22, exceeding the target both countries had set for 2020.

During the meeting Friday, both countries also decided to boost their trade ties and even explore the possibility of a free trade agreement (FTA) that will open up greater channels of business between them, diplomatic sources told ThePrint. India and Turkey have been discussing the possibility of an FTA since last year, sources added.


A member of NATO, Turkey had criticised the Modi government in 2019 at the UN General Assembly for its decision to scrap Article 370, revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

During his visit to Pakistan in 2020, Erdoğan had said that Ankara would support Islamabad on the Kashmir issue and likened the “struggle” of Kashmiris with that of his country during World War 1.

India had termed Turkey’s comments on Kashmir as a “gross interference in India’s internal affairs… and completely unacceptable”.  

Bilateral ties had hit such a low that Prime Minister Modi even cancelled his visit to Turkey in 2019 owing to the tensions.

While it seems that both sides are now actively working towards finalising a visit by PM Modi to Turkey, the country is heading for elections in June 2023 and Erdogan has already declared his bid to run for the top office once again.

(This report has been updated with additional inputs)

(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)

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