Indian-Islamic (Muslims) Nations relations excluding Pak

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Erdogan’s trip to India was anything but a Turkish delight


The first visit to New Delhi—from April 30 to May 01 2017—of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, after winning formidable executive powers by scraping through in a referendum, was marred, predictably enough, by his unacceptable comment on Kashmir. Nonetheless, it was remarkable that the visit went through, with both sides committed to a stronger economic relationship and bolstering of people-to-people relations.

Erdogan last visited India in 2008 as prime minister. India was the first stop on his visit, followed by Russia, China, and the United States. Apart from ironing out wrinkles in Turkey’s relations with the major powers, Erdogan also seeks validation of his win which many in his country dispute—more so because it enthrones him as an undisputed leader, at least for the next five years.

On the face of it, Erdogan and Modi share many commonalities. Both are religious nationalists, governing vast multicultural democracies and emerging economies. They espouse majoritarian politics in large multi-ethnic and multi-religious countries. Yet, in a nod to the secularists in both countries, it was no surprise that their joint statement speaks of “the richly diverse and secular democracies of both nations.”

While the visit was not substantive on the spread of the bilateral agreements it was nevertheless high on optics for a variety of reasons. Erdogan was given an honorary degree by the Jamia Milia Islamia where, speaking in Turkish, he said that India and Turkey shared a common perspective on international developments, particularly on the restructuring of the United Nations Security Council to better reflect today’s reality.

India is Turkey’s second largest trading partner in the Asia-Pacific, although bilateral trade was down 28% to $4.91 billion in 2015-16. The two sides agreed to boost trade to at least $10 billion by 2020, with emphasis on information technology, infrastructure, pharmaceuticals, health, and tourism. To encourage people-to-people relations, a new cultural exchange programme for 2017-20 was signed, together with agreements on cooperation between news agencies and training institutions. They also agreed to improve cooperation in the field of hydrocarbons and renewable energy, particularly solar and wind energy.

A 150-member trade delegation accompanying Erdogan attended the India-Turkey Business Forum, which is expected to take these ideas forward. Turkish industry was invited to participate in infrastructure projects in India and in the “Make in India” programme.

On both the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and on Kashmir, there was a reversion under the Islamic government to Turkey’s earlier position. Until 2002, when Erdogan took office, Turkey had come round to a bilateral resolution of Kashmir, realising that the Indian position was akin to their own on the Cyprus issue with Greece, which, like Pakistan, has always called for international resolution.

Therefore, by calling for a “multilateral dialogue” on Kashmir, a day before his arrival, and offering to mediate, he raised India’s hackles with its known position on the exclusivity of a bilateral dialogue under the Shimla Agreement. He received an accordingly firm response from prime minister Modi. The Indian side explained the matter in bilateral discussions, besides expressing displeasure at Turkey’s participation in infrastructure projects in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Erdogan’s activism, evident from his statement calling for mediation through his good offices, resembled a position he had taken on Syria, one that alienated the Assad regime. The Kashmir offer was, however, not made formally, but through a news channel. In the joint press statement, both sides “urged all countries and entities to work sincerely to disrupt terrorists’” networks and their financing, and stop cross-border movement of terrorists. Yet, on terrorism, too, while Erdogan pledged his full support for India’s fight, it was its left-wing terrorism that he had in mind.

India was looking at the visit not only for its economic potential but also for support for its membership of the NSG of which Turkey is a member and had earlier supported India’s membership in the Missile Technology Control Regime (MCTR). In the end it was not to be. Turkey said that it would like to see both India and Pakistan in the NSG, thereby aligning Turkey’s position with China’s. There being no support for Pakistan, it was a negative in different words.

In recognition of the unpredictability of the outcome, India had triangulated the Erdogan visit by inviting the Cyprus president to New Delhi a few days prior. Cyprus has been a steadfast supporter of India on Kashmir and is also an NSG member. Furthermore, vice-president Hamid Ansari made a state visit to Armenia earlier, visiting the Armenian genocide museum.

With international relations in a state of flux, accepted relations between countries are being reviewed and new bilateral relations, not earlier considered possible, are being established, for example, between Israel and Saudi Arabia. In a scenario of uncertainty and change, perhaps this is the way to go.

Foreign policy under Modi is certainly exhibiting this dynamism, with the goal being to pull out mutually beneficial synergies with our partners even though we do not agree across the board. Turkey is one example, while relations with China have also moved along this groove.
 

The Ultranationalist

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I dont think India has anything to gain from relations with turkey, its presidents visit was just a waste of Modi's time. nsg or no nsg we already enjoy many waivers and privileges that nsg members have so thanks but no thanks turks.
 

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Turkey is a country waiting to explode on the borders of Europe. At this rate, the entire Middle East will be imploding in civil war. I hope Modi build's his wall soon.

I also take a look at this thread to see how Modi should conduct his relations with Muslims. I urge him to create a governmental department called "Islamism and the Middle East" which caters for relations towards Muslims, Pakistan, and the Middle East.

I also think we need to formally define Muslims as an ethnicity or ethnocultural group, because it would make it easier to fight racism from Muslims against Non-Muslim Indians.
 

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India’s ties with Israel should not be at cost of Palestinian cause: Abbas’ aide

India has the right to build relations with Israel but it should not come at the "expense" of New Delhi's firm support for the Palestinian cause, a close aide of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said today.


Ahead of Abbas’ visit to India next week, Dr Majdi Khaldi, a senior Palestinian official, described India’s relations with Palestine as “historic” and “steady”. (Reuters)

India has the right to build relations with Israel but it should not come at the “expense” of New Delhi’s firm support for the Palestinian cause, a close aide of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said today. Ahead of Abbas’ visit to India next week, Dr Majdi Khaldi, a senior Palestinian official, described India’s relations with Palestine as “historic” and “steady” and asserted that the Palestinians want to strengthen their ties with India and seek support for their “struggle”.India has the right to have relations with Israel and any other country but what we care about is that it should not be at the expense of its relations with Palestine and its principled stand supporting the Palestinian cause that we should have our state within the 1967 borders with east Jerusalem as its capital,” Khaldi, a senior diplomatic adviser of Abbas, told PTI in an interview. Responding to a question about Prime Minister Narendra Modi only visiting Israel later this year, skipping Palestine, Khaldi said, “it is his decision”.

“It is up to the Indian Prime Minister to decide when and where to visit. It is his decision. The President (Abbas) was invited by the Prime Minister (Modi) to visit India which he is doing,” the aide to the Palestinian president said. Several MoUs will be signed between India and Palestine during Abbas’ visit to New Delhi from May 14 to 17 with special emphasis on cooperation in the fields of health, agriculture, sports and youth affairs, the official said. “We are looking forward to the exchange between our president and the Indian president and also with Prime Minister Modi. The president met Prime Minister Modi in New York and Paris. This is an important visit which will help relations to flourish in many areas and also renew relations in several others”, the senior diplomatic advisor said.

“We are interested in strengthening our relations with India and to continue getting its political support for our cause and this is the most important thing for us, irrespective of India’s relations with Israel. The most important thing is that it should not be at the expense of our relations, the good relations between India and Palestine,” he asserted. Khaldi stressed that the “excellent” relations between Palestine and India were based on shared values and would grow irrespective of “who governs India”. “Palestine and India have historic relations that do not stand only on bilateral visits. We have excellent relations with all parties, no matter who governs India. The reason is the deep relations between the two people and also the establishment in the two countries,” Khaldi said.

Despite concerns raised in the past over India’s vote at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), which some in the Israeli media interpreted as a change in India’s thinking under the new government, the Palestinian Authority seems to have accepted New Delhi’s position. “We see India supporting Palestine in most of the international forums. Some of the votes have been explained to us as technical votes. We see the political support of India as steady. This is how we feel,” Khaldi emphasised. Appreciating India’s assistance in capacity building in Palestine and support to the local population through several projects, the Palestinian official said that the relations between the two sides was “going in a new direction”.

Palestinians now seek New Delhi’s help in acquiring new technologies, he said. “We have developed bilateral committees lately so that we can renew most of the agreements to strengthen the relations between our two countries and some of these are going to improve economic exchange between Palestine and India”, the official said. “We found that the area of technologies is one area where we can cooperate, which is a new area. You know India is very successful in this field and we have already developed some capacity in this field. India is helping us in developing a technology park. We call it Palestine-India techno park,” Khaldi added.

“We are going to expand cooperation between the businessmen and the two governments. This project is going to trigger much wider relations between the two nations,” he asserted. Abbas will be visiting India following his recent meetings in Cairo, Amman and with US President Donald Trump in Washington. He is likely to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow from where he would fly out to New Delhi. “The president is going to talk to the (Indian) prime minister about the latest developments from his visit to the United States and the importance of the engagement of President Trump in this conflict which is very vital,” Khaldi said.

“He (Trump) is convinced that he can do something different, something important to solve this conflict and can help reach an ultimate deal and we are going to be fully cooperative,” he said. The Palestinian president will also brief the Indian political leadership on different regional developments, especially the crisis in Syria, Yemen, Libya and certain other parts of the region. Abbas’ forthcoming visit would be his fifth to New Delhi in the last 12 years and the third state visit underlining the importance of bilateral relations, Khaldi said.
 

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Rouhani’s re-election won’t boost India-Iran trade ties thanks to US


Woman holds a poster of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during a campaign rally in Tehran, May 17, 2017(REUTERS)

The Iranian question continues to keep the geopolitical sands of the Persian Gulf and much of West Asia fluid and unstable. The landslide victory of Iranian president Hassan Rouhani in his re-election bid shows that the majority of Iranians continue to wish for a modern society and support Tehran’s attempts to engage with the West and end years of economic isolation. However, Mr Rouhani’s return to power has coincided with a speech by the United States president, Donald Trump, accusing Iran of spreading “destruction and chaos”, “fuelling sectarian fires” and being a source of regional instability. This bodes poorly for the future of Iran’s relations with the US and will make it harder for the Gulf to find a political balance between its Sunnis and Shias.

None of this will be welcome to India’s ears. New Delhi has long characterised its Gulf policy as a set of bilateral relations with a diplomatic goal of trying to ensure these separate threads don’t get tangled. India has been nervous at the spread of sectarian hatred and religious extremism across West Asia. It is in India’s interests that Iran be brought in from the cold. Sanctions were helpful in bringing Tehran to accept the nuclear deal with the West. But sanctions will have the opposite effect on Iran when it comes to its involvement in Syria and Yemen. A policy of engagement makes more sense as Tehran sees its interests there in geopolitical terms. While Iran is now free of international sanctions, those imposed by the US remain in place and remain a major hindrance to India and other countries that wish to trade and invest in Iran.

The Trump administration has so far not taken any steps to walk away from the nuclear deal, but by throwing in its lot so strongly with Saudi Arabia and Israel it has weakened the US’ ability to act as a go-between and ensure regional stability – which is what a strategically-minded superpower would want to be. Iran is not an easy customer. Its record of making fiery and self-defeating threats against Israel, continuing anti-American rhetoric and earlier terror attacks against US targets means it has few friends in Washington.

Even India struggles to win friends and influence people in Iran because in the latter are multiple centres of power. But the re-election of Mr Rouhani and what he represents should be seen as evidence that a large part of that country still hopes to be accepted as a normal member of the global community and, therefore, engaging Iran still remain a viable long-term strategy.
 

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Kandla port to soon be linked with Iran’s Chabahar: Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi lays foundation stone for Rs993 crore projects of Kandla port, Chabahar port will allow India access to landlocked Afghanistan and energy-rich Central Asia

On the first day of his two-day Gujarat visit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also inaugurated a pumping station for releasing Narmada waters into Tappar Dam in Bhachau. Photo: PTI

Ahmedabad: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Monday said the Kandla port in Gujarat will soon be connected with Iran’s Chabahar port, which will give a boost to India’s international trade and place the Indian port firmly on the global map.

Modi said this on the first of a two-day visit to Gujarat at Kandla in Kutch district where he laid the foundation stone for a dozen projects worth Rs993 crore.

India Ports Global Pvt. Ltd (IPGPL), a joint venture between Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and Kandla Port Trust (KPT) for development of ports overseas will develop and operate the Chabahar port. IPGPL is in the process of setting up two container berths and three multi-cargo berths.

Chahbahar port, located in the Sistan-Baluchistan Province on Iran’s southern coast is of strategic utility for India. It lies outside the Persian Gulf and is easily accessed from India’s western coast. It is located on the Gulf of Oman, near Iran’s border with Pakistan.

The Chabahar port will allow India access to landlocked Afghanistan and energy-rich Central Asia through JNPT and KPT-run ports on India’s west coast. India has also built a road link connecting Delaram with Zaranj in Afghanistan, which is adjacent to Iran’s border. Also, the port will promote Indian strategic interests in the Gulf and Strait of Hormuz.



Kandla port, run by KPT, is one of India’s largest major ports (run by the central government) and the second largest among all the commercial ports in the country. Last year, it handled close to 106 million tonnes of cargo.

Kandla port will soon be linked to Chabahar port. “The linking will mean Kandla will cement its feet like Angad did,” the prime minister said referring to an episode from Ramayana where the character put his feet down in King Ravana’s court and nobody could move it however hard they tried.

The prime minister said if India wants to make a place for itself in global trade, it should have the best of arrangements in the port sector. The combination of infrastructure and efficiency is vital for the port sector to thrive, he said, adding that the Kandla Port has emerged as one of the finest in Asia and its rapid growth has surprised many economists.

Modi also suggested that the Kandla Port Trust be named after BJP-RSS ideologue Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay, who he said stood for the uplift of all sections of the society.

Besides developing port facilities, Modi said his government was also working on developing a multi-modal transport system.

The new projects undertaken at Kandla are part of the ambitious Sagarmala project that shipping ministry envisages promoting port-based integrated development around all the major and non-major ports of India. Coastal transportation of goods and trade will be cheaper than by roads, Modi said. Developed ports are necessary for India’s recognition as a global economic power.

As part of Sagarmala, more than 400 projects, at an estimated infrastructure investment of more than Rs8 trillion, have been identified across the areas of port modernization & new port development, port connectivity enhancement, port-linked industrialization and coastal community development.

Union shipping and transport minister Nitin Gadkari said the Sagarmala project of 239 projects worth Rs1.37 trillion was already in progress, of which 40 projects were in Gujarat alone. A smart city project is also proposed for Kandla which will create direct and indirect employment for about 50,000 people, he said.
 

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Iran Urges Removal of Trade Barriers with India

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called for efforts to remove the obstacles to trade and banking ties with India.

In a meeting with Foreign Secretary of India Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in Tehran, Foreign Minister Zarif expressed the hope for closer relations between Iran and India in light of the history of their mutual cooperation and the issues of common interest.

Zarif also stressed the need for the removal of obstacles to banking interaction between Tehran and New Delhi and for efforts to help and support the Iranian students in India.

For his part, Jaishankar said he saw a positive prospect of relations with Iran, and hailed the results of his meetings with Iranian officials in Tehran, particularly with Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh.

The two diplomats also discussed the ways to promote cooperation in the energy industry, transit industry, and completion of the North-South Corridor, an international transport route connecting Central Asia to the Persian Gulf.

Iran and India, two major members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), have increased efforts in recent years to establish closer trade ties.

India is one of the major customers of Iran’s crude oil.

Last month, Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan proposed the idea of cooperation with India “at a strategic level”, highlighting the far-reaching impacts of military and defense cooperation on regional security.
 

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