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Almost two-and-a-half months after Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stirred a hornet’s nest by advocating a “multilateral dialogue” to settle the Jammu and Kashmir question, Turkey’s ambassador Sakir Ozkan Torunlar on Friday said that Erdogan’s comments were “wrongly translated” from Turkish to English, which gave a different meaning to his remarks.
According to Torunlar, Erdogan had said in an interview to Wion TV channel, “Look, in order not to give opportunity to further casualties, especially the bilateral dialogues, could be also multilateral dialogues.” This, the Turkish envoy said, was different from what was translated and broadcast which said, “We shouldn’t allow more casualties to occur. We should strengthen multilateral dialogue. We can stay involved through multilateral dialogues.”
The Turkish President’s comments had appeared on the day of his arrival, which was followed by a weekend, and the remarks were not corrected immediately as they did not catch the “eyes and the attention of the President’s press office and the Turkish embassy in Delhi”, Torunlar said. But, on Friday, as he interacted with some reporters on the eve of the first anniversary of the thwarted coup attempt in Turkey on July 15 last year, the Turkish ambassador said that the President had only suggested that they can play a role “if requested”.
When asked if the issue was raised and discussed between the two leaders, Torunlar said he will have to check if he can share the contents of the discussion. Speaking about the presence of members of the Fetullah Gulen group in India, he said that “we advise all our friends to be vigilant”. Whether the Indian government has cooperated with the Turkish government on cracking down on the Gulenists in India, he said, “There is a serious and very good cooperation between Indian and Turkish authorities. We are happy with the cooperation.”
Ahead of arriving in Delhi on April 30 for a two-day visit, Erdogan had said, “…this Kashmir question, this question saddens us deeply. It upsets both the countries involved. And surmounting the Kashmiri challenge will contribute tremendously to global peace. For the last seven decades, this question has not been settled. And I believe doing so will provide relief to both the countries (India and Pakistan).”
Erdogan had also said that Pakistan was “willing” to settle the issue. “…Nawaz Sharif… is a man of good intentions. I heard him personally speak of his will to settle this question once and for all,” he had said.