**Dushanbe (Tajikistan): ** External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Friday called for cooperation in counter-terrorism efforts and enhanced connectivity between member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
“Terrorism remains the most overwhelming threat to our common goals of development and prosperity,” Sushma Swaraj said while addressing the 17th Council of Heads of Government meeting of the SCO here.
“As the footprint of terrorism expands, governments must assume their national responsibility and cooperate with each other,” she said.
“India has actively supported the SCO Qingdao Summit Leaders’ ‘Appeal to Youth’ against radicalication of youth.”
The SCO is a Eurasian inter-governmental organisation, the creation of which was announced in 2001 in Shanghai by Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It was preceded by the Shanghai Five mechanism. India, along with Pakistan, was granted full membership of the bloc in June last year.
This year’s SCO Summit meeting was held in the Chinese city of Qingdao in June.
Sushma Swaraj also congratulated the participating leaders on the successful completion of SCO Peace Mission 2018.
Held in Russia in August, the SCO Peace Mission 2018 involved tactical level operations in an international counter-insurgency or counter-terrorism environment under the SCO Charter.
This was the first time that India participated in this exercise.
Sushma Swaraj also reiterated India’s commitment India to a peace process which is Afghan led, Afghan owned and Afghan controlled, that can help Afghanistan emerge as peaceful, secure, stable, inclusive and economically vibrant nation.
“In this context, we welcome the signing of the Protocol of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group on the sidelines of the Qingdao Summit,” she said.
“We would be happy to co-host with Afghanistan, the next meeting of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group, in India.”
Sushma Swaraj also said that India shares the desire of the SCO members for enhanced connectivity.
“All connectivity initiatives must be based on the principles of respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, consultations, good governance, transparency, viability and sustainability,” she stated.
In this connection,she described as a “positive step” the holding of the first meeting of the heads of railways of the SCO member-states last month.
Sushma Swaraj also said that SCO member-states are determined to work together on environment-friendly energy alternatives to ensure sustainable development.
On trade cooperation, she said everybody has benefited from globalisation.
“We must further develop our trade and investment cooperation,” she said.
“We support an open, stable international trade regime based on centrality of the World Trade Organisation.”