Afghanistan, terrorism figure tops Sushma Swaraj's speech at SCO meet

Last Updated: Wed, May 22, 2019 19:39 hrs

[Kyrgyzstan], May 22 (ANI): Sushma Swaraj, the Minister of External Affairs, reiterated India's commitment in securing peace and security in war-ravaged Afghanistan as she addressed the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting here on Wednesday.

"India stands committed to any process, which can help Afghanistan emerge as a united, peaceful, secure, stable, inclusive and economically vibrant nation, with guaranteed gender and human rights. I wish to once again underscore the importance India attaches to SCO Afghanistan Contact Group and welcome an early conclusion of the Draft Roadmap of further actions of the Contact Group," Swaraj said in a statement.

The SCO is a Eurasian political, economic, and security alliance created in 2001 in Shanghai, by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. India and Pakistan joined the forum in 2017.

The Wednesday's meeting, attended by foreign ministers of the SCO member states, including Pakistan, focused on the effective use of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS), which serves to promote cooperation, among the member states, against terrorism for a comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security.

The discussion on seeking effective ways to fight regional terrorism came in the backdrop of the deadly serial bombings on Easter day in Sri Lanka that targeted churches and hotels across the country killing more than 250 people.

Swaraj cited the Pulwama attack that targeted a convoy of Indian soldiers in south Kashmir and killed 50 CRPF jawans in February. Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad claimed responsibility of the deadly terror strike.

"Our heart goes out to our brothers and sisters of Sri Lanka, who have recently witnessed the ghastly act of terrorism. Our wounds of Pulwama attack were still raw and news from neighbourhood has made us more determined to fight firmly resolutely against this menace," the minister said.

Speaking on global climate change, Swaraj said, "India is committed to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement on Combating Climate Change. We welcome the agreement reached at Katowice Climate Change Conference (COP 24) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)."

The External Affairs Minister further said that India has adopted regional connectivity initiatives that are inclusive, sustainable, transparent, and respect the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity with other SCO member nations.

"India's commitment to regional connectivity is evident from our involvement in International North-South Transport Corridor, Chabahar Port, Ashgabat Agreement and India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway," Swaraj said, adding that India operationalised air freight corridors between Kabul and Kandahar and New Delhi and Mumbai in 2017

In the meeting, the minister stated New Delhi firmly believes in the efficacy of multilateralism and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter.

Earlier, on the sidelines of the meeting, Swaraj called on Kyrgyz President Jeenbekov and discussed bilateral cooperation between India and Kyrgyzstan and committed to explore the untapped potential.

The two-day meeting, beginning May 21, witnessed all sides exchanging views on issues of international and regional importance, along with reviewing the preparation for the forthcoming SCO Summit in Bishkek from June 13 to 14.

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi is also slated to attend the impending SCO meeting. (ANI)