Calling upon Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) member states to root out terrorism collectively and fix accountability on its supporters, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday asserted that any kind of terrorist act or support to it is a major crime against humanity. “Peace and prosperity cannot coexist with this menace,” Mr. Singh added while chairing the Defence Ministers’ meeting which India is hosting for the first time since it became a full SCO member in 2017.
Separately, in a statement on bilateral talks between Chinese Defence Minister Li Shangfu and Mr. Singh on Thursday, China said that the two countries share far “more common interests than differences” and the two sides should take a “long-term view, place the border issue in an appropriate position in bilateral relations, and promote the transition of the border situation to normalized management”.
“If a nation shelters terrorists, it not only poses a threat to others, but for itself too. Radicalisation of youth is a cause of concern not only from the point of view of security, but it is also a major obstacle in the path of socio-economic progress of society. If we want to make the SCO a stronger and more credible international organisation, our topmost priority should be to effectively deal with terrorism,” Mr. Singh said.
India believes in maintaining peace and security based on UN Charter provisions, Mr. Singh stressed, while stating that India is committed towards defence capacity building of SCO member states for shared security interests. “A secure, stable, and prosperous region will improve the quality of life of people of each nation.”
The meet was attended in person by Defence Ministers of China, Russia, Iran, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. From Pakistan, the Special advisor to Prime Minister on Defence, Malik Ahmed Khan, joined through video conference. The Ministers discussed issues of common concern including issues of regional and international security under the charter of SCO, a Defence Ministry statement said. It added that at the end of the deliberations, all the SCO member countries signed a protocol, expressing their “collective will to make the region secure, peaceful, and prosperous”.
Mr. Singh said that India envisions a robust framework of regional cooperation which mutually respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all member states by taking care of their legitimate interests. He also voiced India’s commitment towards defence capacity building of SCO member states through training and co-manufacturing and co-development of items, the Ministry said. Talking of food security, he noted that today a large part of the world is passing through a food crisis and urged member countries to ensure food security under an integrated plan.
Addressing the media after the meeting, Defence Secretary Giridhar Aramane stated that all the member nations arrived at consensus on several areas of cooperation, including dealing with terrorism, security of vulnerable populations, as well as HADR (Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief). He added that all member states were unanimous in their statements that terrorism, in all its forms, must be condemned and eliminated.
On the sidelines of the meeting, Mr. Singh held bilaterals with counterparts from Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Belarus. On the meeting with Russian Defence Minister General Sergei Shoigu, the Ministry said that the two Ministers discussed wide-ranging issues of bilateral defence cooperation, including military-to-military ties as well as industrial partnership. “They also discussed the Russian defence industry’s participation in the ‘Make in India’ initiative and ways to provide further impetus to it.”
Further, the statement said that the two Ministers also discussed matters of regional peace and security. “They expressed satisfaction over the continued trust and mutual respect between the two countries, particularly in defence, and reiterated their commitment towards strengthening the partnership,” it said adding that they acknowledged the unique, long-lasting and time-tested relationship between India and Russia.