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Turkish President Erdogan's Pakistan Visit Postponed Amid Global Pressure to Halt Military Offensive in Syria

The Turkish president was scheduled to pay an official visit to Pakistan on October 23 to cement bilateral ties and back Pakistan's stance on the Kashmir issue after India revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status in August.

PTI

Updated:October 17, 2019, 6:31 PM IST
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Turkish President Erdogan's Pakistan Visit Postponed Amid Global Pressure to Halt Military Offensive in Syria
File photo of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Islamabad: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's planned visit to Pakistan has been postponed, the foreign office announced here on Thursday, amidst growing international pressure, including from India, on Ankara to stop a cross-border offensive against Kurdish-led forces in Syria.

The media here earlier reported that the Turkish president would pay an official visit to Pakistan on October 23 to cement bilateral ties and back Pakistan's stance on the Kashmir issue after India revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status in August.

Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal confirmed that President Erdogan's visit has been postponed but did not give a reason for the move.

"Pakistan and Turkey have deep brotherly ties and both the countries maintain regular leadership level contacts. The scheduled visit of the Turkish president has been postponed for the time being and it will be rescheduled, Faisal while addressing a weekly news briefing in here.

He said that a new date for the visit is yet to be determined.

Faisal said Turkey remained a victim of terrorism for a long time and we need to recognise its legitimate security concerns in the region.

"Prime Minister Imran Khan has called the Turkish President and reiterated Pakistan's support and solidarity with Turkey," The Express Tribune quoted the spokesperson as saying.

Turkey has come increasing international pressure after launching a military operation against the US-aligned Kurdish militia. The US imposed sanctions on Ankara and major European nations condemned the Turkish move and banned the sale of weapons to the NATO member.

India has voiced its deep concern over the "unilateral military offensive" by Turkey in northeastern Syria and asserted that the action can undermine stability in the region as well as the fight against terrorism.

Reacting to the development, Ministry of External Affairs said: "We are deeply concerned at the unilateral military offensive by Turkey in northeast Syria."

Turkey's actions can undermine stability in the region and the fight against terrorism, it said in a statement in New Delhi on October 10.

The action also has the potential for causing humanitarian and civilian distress, the MEA said in a statement, amidst Erdogan's public support for Pakistan on the Kashmir issue.

"We call upon Turkey to exercise restraint and respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria. We urge the peaceful settlement of all issues through dialogue and discussion," the MEA said.

US Vice President Mike Pence, accompanied by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Turkey on Thursday to push President Erdogan for a ceasefire in Syria after Ankara rebuffed international pressure to halt its offensive against Kurdish forces.

But Erdogan vowed on Wednesday that Turkey's operation -- which has been facilitated by the withdrawal of US troops from northern Syria -- would continue.

Turkish troops and allied Syrian rebels launched the offensive in northern Syria last week against members of a Kurdish militia that dominates the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), called the People's Protection Units (YPG).

The aim, Turkey said, was to push YPG fighters back from the border, and to create a "safe zone" where up to two million Syrian refugees could be resettled.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based monitoring group, said on Wednesday that 71 civilians had been killed in Syria since the beginning of the operation.

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