External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on May 22 took up terror strikes at Pulwama and Sri Lanka and urged member nations of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) for greater counter-terror cooperation. Addressing the ministerial meet of SCO at Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic, the External Affairs Minister said that India remains committed to regional connectivity and peace in Afghanistan.
“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 [and] resolutely against this menace,” said Ms. Swaraj addressing a gathering which included her Pakistan counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
Ms. Swaraj said that India is open to strengthen the Regional Anti-Terror Structure or RATS of SCO to fight terrorism and security challenges in the region. Taking up the situation in Afghanistan, the Minister said that India wants Afghanistan to be “united, peaceful, secure, stable, inclusive and economically vibrant”.
“I wish to once again underscore the importance India attaches to SCO Afghanistan Contact Group and welcome an early conclusion of the Draft Roadmap of further actions of the Contact Group,” said Ms. Swaraj in her speech.
The External Affairs Minister cited the air connectivity between Kandahar, Kabul and Mumbai, Delhi as a sign of continued commitment to regional connectivity projects built by respecting sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Earlier in the day, Ms. Swaraj called on Kyrgyzstan President Sooronbay Jeenbekov ahead of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Bishkek and discussed ways to enhance bilateral ties by exploring the untapped potential.
Ms. Swaraj arrived in Bishkek in the Kyrgyzstan capital on May 21 to attend a two-day meeting of the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers.
“An important partner in Central Asia. EAM @SushmaSwaraj called on Kyrgyz President Jeenbekov ahead of #SCO Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in #Bishkek. Visible enthusiasm to expand bilateral relations across all sectors, as both countries commit to explore the untapped potential,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called on Kyrgyzstan President Sooronbay Jeenbekov ahead of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Foreign Minister’s Meeting in Bishkek. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@MEAIndia
In her first engagement in Bishkek, Ms. Swaraj on May 21 held a “productive discussion” with her Kyrgyzstan counterpart Chingiz Aidarbekov.
India became a full member of the China-dominated grouping in 2017 and New Delhi’s entry has increased the bloc’s heft in regional geo-politics, besides giving it a pan-Asian hue.
Last month, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman attended the SCO Defence Ministers’ conclave in Bishkek.
India was an observer at the SCO since 2005 and has generally participated in the ministerial-level meetings of the grouping which focus mainly on security and economic cooperation in the Eurasian region.
Along with India, Pakistan was also granted the SCO membership in 2017.
The SCO was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the presidents of Russia, China, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.