India on Wednesday asserted that the Pulwama terror attack and the Easter Sunday bombings in neighbouring Sri Lanka had made it more determined to resolutely combat terrorism and expressed its readiness to consistently strengthen cooperation within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) for comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security.
“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 the news from the neighbourhood has made us more determined to fight firmly resolutely against this menace,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said while addressing the SCO Council of Ministers meeting held in the Kyrgyzstan capital of Bishkek.
The two-day meeting was attended by the foreign ministers of China, Pakistan, Russia and other Central Asian countries which are members of the SCO, an organisation widely regarded as primary security pillar of the region.
Swaraj said India would be open to ideas on how member-countries of the SCO could make the work of its Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS) more effective to deal with issues like regional security and defence.
She noted that despite a turbulent global scenario, SCO member states have been steadily expanding mutually beneficial cooperation in various spheres, including political, security and development.
India, the minister said, was committed to continue working for a favourable environment for SCO member countries’ economic activities. “India subscribes to a rule-based, transparent, non-discriminatory, open and inclusive multilateral trading system, centered around the World Trade Organisation, and firmly oppose unilateralism and protectionism,” she added.
Sushma Swaraj also assured the gathering about India’s commitment to regional connectivity and mentioned in this regard its involvement in the International North-South Transport Corridor, Chabahar Port, Ashgabat Agreement and the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway.
India has also operationalised air freight corridors between Kabul and Kandahar and New Delhi and Mumbai. “We welcome regional connectivity initiatives, that are inclusive, sustainable, transparent and respect the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity,” she added.
Swaraj said India firmly believed in the efficacy of multilateralism and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter. It was imperative to have comprehensive reforms of the United Nations and its Security Council to make it more representative and effective. The SCO must support the member countries’ candidatures for the non-permanent membership of UNSC for the years 2021-2022 and 2027-2028.
On Afghanistan, she said India stood committed to any process, which could help the war-ravaged country emerge as a united, peaceful, secure, stable, inclusive and economically vibrant nation, with guaranteed gender and human rights.
Ahead of the CFM meeting, Sushma Swaraj called on Kyrgyzstan President Sooronbay Jeenbekov.
Following the meet, Swaraj held a delegation level meeting with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Bishkek.