SCO calls for global front to fight terror groups

QINGDAO, June 10:
China and Russia-led security grouping SCO today resolved to fight terrorism, separatism and extremism with a renewed vigour in the next three years and called for unified global counter-terrorism front under the coordination of the United Nations.
The grouping of eight countries including China, India and Russia, came out with a declaration at the end of its two- day annual summit here, with a resolve to deepen cooperation to contain terrorism, extremism and separatism.
In his address at the summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about challenges of terrorism and cited example of its effects in Afghanistan.
“The Member States strongly condemn all forms of terrorism and consider it necessary to make efforts to promote the creation of a unified global counter-terrorism front with the central coordinating role of the UN on the basis of international law, without politicisation or double standards,” the Qingdao declaration said.
However, the declaration did not mention any terror group.
It said all the member countries were for reaching consensus for adopting the UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism and emphasised the importance of comprehensive measures to reach peaceful settlement of international and regional conflicts.
The SCO leaders also adopted a Joint Appeal to Youth, in which they appealed to youths not to get influenced by extremist ideologies.
The declaration said the SCO will work to stop the spread of terrorist ideology and eliminate factors and conditions that facilitate terrorism and extremism, acknowledging that there can be no justification to any act of terrorism or extremism.
“The Member States note that the interference in the domestic affairs of other States under the pretence of combatting terrorism and extremism is unacceptable, as well as the use of terrorist, extremist and radical groups for one’s own purposes,” the declaration said.
The SCO also called for “effectively fulfilling” the requirements of specialised UN Security Council resolutions to counter any forms of financing of terrorism and providing material and technical support to it.
In relation to the developments in the Middle East, the SCO talked about growing threat from foreign terrorists who return to their countries or find shelter in third countries to continue their terrorist and extremist activity within the bloc.
“The Member States will work to improve the information exchange mechanisms regarding these people and their movements, and speed up procedures to extradite foreign terrorists in accordance with the national legislation of the SCO Member States and boost international cooperation both on the political level and between the security services,” it said.
In the summit, the leaders also talked about the special role of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure in the fight against “the three evils” – terrorism, extremism and separatism – in order to ensure regional security.
It said a cooperation programme among the member countries to fight terrorism, separatism and extremism will be prioritised in the next three years.
The SCO members also reaffirmed their concern about the risk of weapons of mass destruction ending up in the hands of terrorist groups.
“The leaders advocate the strengthening of the international legal framework to counter this threat and support the initiative to draft an international convention against chemical and biological terrorist attacks at the Conference on Disarmament,” the declaration said.
It said the member states will strengthen their cooperation in combating the spread and propagation of terrorist ideology through the internet, including publicly justifying terrorism.
The SCO countries also reaffirmed their commitment to improve the mechanism of cooperation within the bloc to combat illegal drug trafficking.
Meanwhile, India was the only country today in the eight-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organisation grouping which opposed China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative with Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserting that any mega connectivity project must respect sovereignty and territorial integrity of the countries.
A declaration signed by leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) countries, including Modi, at the end of a two-day summit of the bloc said Russia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have been “reaffirming” their support for China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
In his address at the summit, Modi, in a clear reference to the BRI, said any mega connectivity project must respect sovereignty and territorial integrity of the countries and assured that India will support projects which ensure inclusivity.
“Connectivity with the neighbouring countries is India’s priority. We welcome the connectivity projects which are sustainable and efficient and which respect territorial integrity and sovereignty of the countries,” he said.
India has been severely critical of the BRI, the pet project of Chinese President Xi Jinping, as the USD 50 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is part of the BRI, passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
India says it cannot accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Modi, in presence of Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin, said India’s commitment to connectivity projects was reflected in its involvement in the International North South Corridor project, development of the Chabahar port and Ashgabat agreement.
China had unveiled the BRI in 2013 with an aim to link Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Gulf region, Africa and Europe with a network of land and sea routes.
President Xi has already announced that China would invest around USD 126 billion for the project.
However, there has been suspicion among several countries that the main aim of the project is to expand China’s influence globally.
According to Chinese officials, around 80 countries and international organisations have already inked pacts with Beijing for the ambitious project.
Meanwhile, amid frosty bilateral relationship, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain today exchanged pleasantries after a press conference by the leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) here.
The two leaders shook hands and exchanged pleasantries at the end of the media briefing which was addressed by Chinese President Xi Jinping. China is the host and chair of the SCO.
Modi and Hussain were among the leaders who attended the media briefing after culmination of the 18th SCO summit where India and Pakistan participated as full-fledged members.
The relations between India and Pakistan had strained after an attack on an army camp in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistan-based terror organisations in 2016. The ties took a severe hit post-sentencing of Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav by a military court in April last year.
India had also boycotted the 19th SAARC Summit after the Uri attack. The summit was called off after Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan also declined to participate in the Islamabad meet. (PTI)