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India asks SAARC to collectively defeat Pak-sponsored terror

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New Delhi, Sep 24 (IANS) India on Thursday urged the member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to collectively resolve to defeat Pakistan sponsored cross-border terrorism.

In the annual informal meeting of the SAARC council of ministers, held virtually, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar hit out at Pakistan indirectly.

Without mentioning Pakistan, he urged the member states “to collectively resolve to defeat the scourge of terrorism, including the forces that nurture, support and encourage an environment of terror and conflict, which impede the objective of SAARC to realise its full potential for collective collaboration and prosperity across South Asia”.

The meeting, chaired by Nepal, was attended by representatives of all the SAARC member states – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Jaishankar reiterated India’s steadfast commitment to the SAARC in building a connected, integrated, secure and prosperous South Asia, an official statement said.

He highlighted a slew of measures taken by India in the follow-up to the SAARC leaders video conference, including virtually convening health professionals and trade officials meetings, creating a Covid-19 Information Exchange Platform (COINEX), foreign currency swap support and activation of the SAARC Food Bank mechanism.

Under India’s contribution to the SAARC Covid-19 Emergency Fund, the minister said, essential drugs, medical consumables, Covid protection and testing kits, and other equipment, amounting $2.3 million, were made available to countries in the SAARC region. He reiterated India’s continued commitment to assisting countries in the SAARC region in combating the pandemic.

The meeting reviewed regional efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. The member states appreciated the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in convening a video conference of SAARC leaders on March 15, to take collaborative measures towards combating the pandemic across the region. This included the creation of SAARC Covid-19 Emergency Fund, to which all countries have pledged voluntary contributions.

Informal meetings, held since 1997, take advantage of the opportunity provided by the presence of the Foreign Ministers at UNGA sessions to exchange views on SAARC issues, an official statement said.

The meeting received a report from the Secretary-General on the status of regional cooperation since the last informal meeting, which was on September 26 last year in New York.



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