India for more anti-terror cooperation

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New Delhi: India on Wednesday called for strengthening the Regional Anti-Terror Structure (RATS) with effective partnership among Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) member states to combat the menace of cross-border terror network in the Eurasian region.

“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 neighborhood has made us more determined to fight firmly and resolutely against this menace,” foreign minister Sushma Swaraj said at the SCO Foreign Minister’s meeting in Bishkek. This is the last foreign policy engagement of the current government.

“We are determined to consistently strengthen cooperation within the SCO framework for comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security. We would be open to ideas on how we can make the work of RATS more effective in this regard,” she suggested in the presence of Russian, Chinese, Pakistani and other foreign ministers from the region. Based in Tashkent, RATS is a counter-terror instrument based on information sharing and joint initiatives. Swaraj, among others, held a bilateral meeting with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.

Swaraj also expressed strong reservations on trade protectionism in what could be an indication of an attempt to make SCO a voice against unilateral trade practices. “India is committed to continue working for a favorable environment for SCO member countries’ economic activities and to intensify work on the relevant SCO documents dealing with economic and trade cooperation. India subscribes to a rule-based, transparent, non-discriminatory, open and inclusive multilateral trading system, centered around the WTO, and firmly oppose unilateralism and protectionism.”

Reiterating India’s reservations against BRI including CPEC, which has been endorsed by six other SCO member states, Swaraj noted: “We welcome regional connectivity initiatives, that are inclusive, sustainable, transparent and respect the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

The minister listed areas where India is willing to share expertise with SCO members. These include — agriculture, medicine, information technology, space, finance and renewable energy.





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