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SOURCE: IANS

Reminding the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) of one of its “original goals”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday stated that cross-border terrorism requires a “decisive response” from the grouping which must “naturally” give priority to combating terrorism and respecting territorial integrity in the region.PM Modi’s remarks, delivered by External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar at the 24th meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of State in Kazakhstan’s Astana, assume significance as the gathering of leaders physically attending the summit also included Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“Many of us have had our experiences, often originating beyond our borders. Let us be clear that if left unchecked, it can become a major threat to regional and global peace. Terrorism in any form or manifestation cannot be justified or condoned,” EAM Jaishankar, who is leading the Indian delegation at the Summit, mentioned while delivering PM Modi’s remarks.

“International community must isolate and expose those countries that harbour terrorists, provide safe havens and condone terrorism. Cross-border terrorism requires a decisive response and terrorism financing and recruitment must be resolutely countered,” PM Modi added in his message to the SCO community which represents approximately 40 per cent of the world’s population and nearly one-third of the global economy.

Prime Minister Modi also urged to take “proactive steps” to prevent the spread of radicalisation among the youth while highlighting the shared commitment agreed upon by the member states in the Joint Statement issued during India’s SCO Presidency last year.

He said that the meeting was taking place in the backdrop of pandemic impact, ongoing conflicts, rising tensions, trust deficits and increasing number of hotspots around the world – events which have put significant strain on international relations and global economic growth.

“At this time, it is particularly noteworthy that we are reiterating mutual respect for sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, equality, mutual benefit, non-interference in internal affairs, non-use of force or threat of use of force as a basis for our foreign policies. We have also agreed not to take any measures contrary to the principles of state sovereignty and territorial integrity,” PM Modi underlined in his remarks.

The gathering of the leaders, he said, is aimed at finding common ground to mitigate the consequences of these developments.

While congratulating Iran and Belarus, the new members of the organisation, PM Modi said that the SCO occupies a prominent place in India’s foreign policy.

Prime Minister Modi, in his remarks, also focused on working towards achieving committed reduction in emissions and having robust connectivity for economic development.

“Respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity is essential for connectivity and infrastructure projects. So too are non-discriminatory trade rights and transit regimes. The SCO needs to deliberate seriously on these aspects,” he stated.

He also spotlighted India’s commitment to ‘AI for All’ while insisting that the 21st century is the century of technology.

“We have to make technology creative and apply it to the welfare and progress of our societies. India is among the countries to formulate a National Strategy on Artificial Intelligence and the launch of an AI Mission,” PM’s remarks mentioned.

India’s priorities at the SCO Summit have been shaped by PM Modi’s vision of SECURE, which stands for Security, Economic development, Connectivity, Unity, Respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, and Environmental protection.

The principle of SECURE reflected the theme of India’s first-ever presidency of SCO, as was asserted by PM Modi during the virtual SCO Summit hosted by New Delhi on July 4, last year.