Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday held a surprise unannounced meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in the historic city of Samarkand, Uzbekistan, on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit that concluded on the same day.
The meeting was not included on Modi's schedule for the summit shared by the Ministry of External Affairs with the media.
This is their first meeting since relations between India and Turkey soured two years ago after Erdogan's comments on the disputed Muslim-majority region of Kashmir. Relations are further complicated by Ankara’s close ties with Islamabad.
In early 2020, the Government of India summoned the Turkish ambassador to lodge a diplomatic protest after Erdogan, on a visit to Pakistan, said the situation in Kashmir was worsening.
His comments came soon after India scrapped Article 35A of the Constitution, withdrawing the region's autonomy and bringing it under union rule.
The PM highlighted that economic ties were at the forefront of the agenda of the meeting.
“Met President @RTErdogan and reviewed the full range of bilateral relations between India and Turkey including ways to deepen economic linkages for the benefit of our people,” Modi said in a Twitter post.
Recently, Turkey, an importer of wheat, agreed to buy more wheat from India, after Russia -- the largest exporter -- invaded Ukraine -- the second-largest exporter, disrupting global supplies and upending the market.
Trade between the two countries was USD 5.42 billion in 2020-21, inspite the pandemic. Bilateral trade in merchandise goods between India and Turkey reached US$ 10.71 billion in 2021-22, exceeding the target both countries had set for 2020.