Sushma Swaraj lambasts Pakistan at SCO meet

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Beijing, April 24 (IANS) Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday slammed Pakistan for sheltering terrorists and urged the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) to act against the countries that promote terrorism.

Without a direct reference to Pakistan, Sushma Swaraj said the world community together must “wipe out this scourge from the face of the earth”.

“There are a number of challenges that are being faced by the world today, foremost being the threat of global terrorism and the imminent need to build a strong security architecture to combat it, she said at the Foreign Ministers meet of the SCO here where her Pakistani counterpart Khawaja Asif was also present.

“We strongly believe that our fight against terrorism should not only seek to eliminate terrorists but should also identify and take strong measures against states that encourage, support and finance terrorism and provide sanctuary to terrorists and terror groups,” she said.

“The criminal terrorist militias are not impeded by borders as they seek to destroy the architecture of international stability and build walls of fear in societies that believe in pluralism.

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“Maiming and killing innocent lives indiscriminately constitutes the most blatant violation of human rights. We have to work together to wipe-out this scourge from the face of the earth.

“In order to realise this objective, we must unite across our differences, strengthen our resolve and script an effective strategy against terror,” she said, welcoming the “clarity” shown by the SCO on terrorism from its inception.

The SCO was set in 2001 in Shanghai by Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India, along with Pakistan, were granted full member status at the SCO summit in Astana, Kazakhstan, in June 2017.

This is the first time that India is participating in the SCO Foreign Ministers’ meeting.

In her address, Sushma Swaraj said the SCO member states have been connected historically through shared commonalities and her country was committed to working with the group to strengthen economic and investment ties.

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Stressing India believed that economic globalisation should be more open, inclusive, equitable and balanced for mutual benefits, she said: “Protectionism in all its forms should be rejected and efforts should be made to discipline measures that constitute barriers to trade.”

She also called for promotion of liberalisation and facilitation of trade and investment to inject greater impetus into the world economy.

Sushma Swaraj said that the SCO “is a major platform for convergence in our world views on sustainable development, clean and healthy living, multilateral trading system, Doha Development Agenda, disarmament and non-proliferation”.

She also stressed that connectivity with SCO countries is India’s priority, but for connectivity to ensure cooperation and trust, “respect for sovereignty is essential” and “inclusivity, transparency and sustainability are imperative”.

Mentioning Indian participation in the International North-South Transport Corridor, the Chabahar port; the Ashgabat Agreement on multimodal transport between India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Oman, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan; the India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway project; and the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) initiative, she also said that that India has operationalised the air freight corridor between Kabul, Kandahar, New Delhi and Mumbai.

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She also said that reforms in the UN Security Council is an “urgent task” before the SCO.

According to a statement issued by the Indian Embassy here following the conclusion of Sushma Swaraj’s visit that started on April 21, her meeting with Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday reviewed various aspects of the India-China bilateral relationship and exchanged views on international and regional issues of common interest.

In a joint media address afterwards, they announced that at Chinese President Xi Jinping’s invitation, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit China on April 27-28 for an informal summit-level meeting.

“The minister also interacted with Chinese students learning Hindi and she announced that 25 Chinese students learning Hindi in China would be sponsored for a familiarisation tour to India,” the statement said.



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