Can’t afford double standards in anti-terror fight: Sushma (Roundup)

Moscow, April 18 (IANS) External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday said that

nations cannot afford to adopt double standards in the fight against terrorism even as she took up with the Chinese foreign minister the issue of Beijing vetoing New Delhi’s move in the UN to ban Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar.

“If we continue to adopt double standards in dealing with terrorism, it will have serious consequences not just for our own countries, but the international community as a whole,” Sushma Swaraj said while addressing the 14th Russia-India-China (RIC) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting here.

Sushma Swaraj called on the RIC countries to lead the way in getting the international community together to counter terrorism through joint action, including at the UN.

Raising the issue of UN Security Council reform, Sushma Swaraj said it demanded greater urgency and sought support of Russia and China for this.

“There has been some positive movement in this connection with a text being put for the first time on the table for inter-governmental negotiations. However, we need greater urgency on this issue. I seek the support of my Chinese and Russian colleagues for taking the IGN (inter-governmental negotiations) process forward,” she said.

On the slowdown of the global economy, the Indian minister said that as three large, emerging economies, India, Russia and China shared similar approaches and could benefit “from coordinating our positions”.

The minister also sought active participation of all members in the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) summit to be held in Goa in October this year.

India assumed the BRICS chairmanship this year.

“We hope to have a very successful BRICS Summit in Goa in October,” Sushma Swaraj said.

In a media statement following the RIC meeting, she said that terrorism remained the foremost threat to international peace and security.

“I stressed the need to craft an effective global strategy to counter terrorism, including at the UN. I look forward to working with both my colleagues, in this regard,” she said.

Answering a question in press conference after the RIC meeting, she said that all three countries — India, Russia and China — have been victims of terrorism.

“It is natural for us that we unite to lead the world in our fight against terrorism,” Sushma Swaraj said.

In her media statement, she also said that she and the Russian and Chinese foreign ministers had a productive exchange of views on the situation in the Middle East.

“We also discussed the situation in Afghanistan and agreed that it was important for the international community to remain engaged and support the Afghanistan government in its development and reconciliation efforts and in defeating terrorist forces,” she said.

Sushma Swaraj started her day with a bilateral meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during which she raised the issue of China vetoing India’s bid at the UN to ban JeM chief Masood Azhar.

India approached the UN in February to include Azhar in the UN Security Council’s 1267 sanctions list, in the aftermath of the Pathankot airbase terror attack. In the strike in early January by JeM terrorists, seven Indian security personnel were killed.

However, China asked the UN sanctions committee to keep on hold the Indian move, saying that Azhar did not meet the UN criteria to be banned as a terrorist.

“I would also like to tell you that in the morning today, I met Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and in that meeting also I said to him that if we want to fulfill our commitment to fight terrorism together, then we must rethink the position they have taken on UNSC 1267 Committee,” Sushma Swaraj said in the press conference.

The external affairs minister also held a bilateral meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the RIC meeting during which the latter briefed her on the progress in the investigations into the deaths of three Indian nationals in Russia earlier this year.

While Puja Kallur, 22, from Navi Mumbai, and her room-mate Karishma Udai Bhosle, 21, from Pune, perished in the fire which broke out in their hostel on February 14 in the Smolensk State Medical Academy, Yasir Jawed, a medical student from Srinagar died on March 8 after being attacked by unknown people at Kazan city in the Tatarstan republic.

Besides this, Sushma Swaraj and Lavrov reviewed bilateral relations and preparations for the annual bilateral summit.

The external affairs later also called on Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rozogin at the White House in Moscow.

Rogozin is the co-chair of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on trade and economic cooperation.

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