Elimination of terror precondition for SAARC: Jaishankar

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New York, Sep 27 (IANS) The elimination of terrorism in all its forms is a precondition not only for fruitful cooperation among South Asian neighbours but also for the very survival of the region itself, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Thursday at the SAARC Foreign Ministers meet that was boycotted by Pakistan.

He said the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation is “really not just a story of missed opportunities but also of deliberate obstacles. Terrorism is among them.”

Citing the example of the South Asian Satellite, he said it shows how India has been taking up the initiatives that bear prosperity to the neighbourhood. The South Asian satellite was launched in 2017 with an intention to arrive at scientific solutions to address poverty in the SAARC region.

He gave the example of the South Asian University, “of India building academic excellence that will have generational impact”.

The 1,174 students graduated from SAU contribute immensely to the development of their respective member states. “We’re committed to giving 100 per cent capital cost towards construction of SAU,” he said.

“Regionalism has taken root in every corner of the world. If we have lagged behind, it is because South Asia does not have normal trade and connectivity that other regions do.

“It is unfortunate that we have not made any headway with respect to some connectivity initiatives such as Motor Vehicles and Railways Agreements. Similarly, there has been no progress in the SAARC Regional Air Services Agreement, initiated by India,” he said.

“There are other success stories of last year: extension of the National Knowledge Network to our SAARC partner countries. The NKN extension has been completely implemented in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Its extension to Bhutan was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in August,a he added.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi boycotted the speech by Jaishankar, delivered on the sidelines of the UNGA here, and entered the venue after the Indian minister had left. Qureshi said the boycott was over Kashmir.

–IANS

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