China and Russia expressed their commitment to eliminate the “breeding ground of terrorism” at the 16th Foreign Ministers meeting of Russia-India-China (RIC) in Wuzhen on Wednesday. The expression comes as a major diplomatic victory for India in the backdrop of the 14 September Pulwama terror attack carried out by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM).
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that the three countries have agreed to jointly combat all forms terrorism through closer policy coordination and practical cooperation.
“Especially important is to eradicate the breeding grounds of terrorism and extremism,” Yi specifically said.
The statement assumes significance since it comes a day after India carried out air strikes on JeM terrorist camp in Pakistan’s Balakot killing approximately 250-300 terrorists including top commanders of the terror outfit.
At a media briefing held after the meeting, Swaraj referred to Yi’s statement saying that it is a commitment by the three countries.
“You heard the address by Mr Wang Yi. It’s not just a joint strategy but also our commitment,” she said.
Swaraj underlined that terrorism is a threat to humanity and thus a strategy by the three countries is not enough adding that China, Russia and India have reached an understanding on two major counter-terror mechanisms.
“We need a global strategy, global cooperation. I’m happy to tell you today we gained consensus on the establishment of UN-led global counter-terrorism mechanism and the finalisation and adoption of the India-proposed Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) mechanism,” she added.
“As far as Pulwama is concerned, I had raised this issue in the bilateral meeting with Mr Wang Yi and also at RIC forum,” she said.
Swaraj added that India and China have made substantial progress in relations since the informal summit between PM Modi and President Xi Jinping in Wuhan in April 2018.
“It is important to both sides to ensure thorough and effective implementation of the guidance given by our leaders. Both sides have made good efforts in this regard and we should sustain this effort,” she said.
While Yi, in his address at the end of the meeting, said that India, Russia and China have agreed to combat terrorism, he also tried to tread the fine line by saying that Pakistan, a close ally of China, has “always been opposed to terrorism”.
“China appreciates statements from Indian and Pakistani friends saying that they’ll exercise restraint and avoid escalation of situation,” he said.
“As a mutual friend to both India and Pakistan, we hope that they can conduct dialogue to establish facts through investigation to keep things under control and maintain peace and stability in the region. In this process China is playing a constructive role not the opposite,” Yi stated.
In her speech at the RIC Ministers meet, Swaraj referred to Pakistan’s reluctance to take any action after the Pulwama incident.
“Following the Pulwama terrorist attack, instead of taking seriously the calls by international community to act against Jaish-e-Mohammad and other terror groups based in Pakistan, it denied any knowledge of the attack and dismissed outright claims by JeM,” she said.
Referring to the “pre-emptive, non-military” action taken by India on a JeM camp at Balakot, Swaraj said, “In the light of continuing refusal of Pak to acknowledge and act against terror groups on its territory and based on credible info that JeM was planning other attacks in parts of India, Government of India decided to take pre-emptive action and target was selected in order to avoid civilian casualties.”
“It wasn’t a military op. No military installation targeted. Objective was to act against terrorist infrastructure of JeM to pre-empt another terror attack in India. India doesn’t wish to see further escalation of situation. It’ll continue to act with responsibility and restraint,” she added.
At the meeting all three ministers stressed that those committing, orchestrating, inciting or supporting terrorist acts must be held accountable and brought to justice in accordance with existing international commitments on countering terrorism, including the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the Financial Action Task Force standards.