External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar speaking at the SAARC council meeting in New York
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar speaking at the SAARC council meeting in New York
ANI Photo

New York: Elimination of terrorism in all its forms is a precondition not solely for the fruitful cooperation between SAARC countries but the very survival of the South Asian region, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar asserted on Thursday.

Addressing the SAARC council meeting held here on the sidelines of the UNGA session, Jaishankar said, "Ours is really not just a story of missed opportunities but also of deliberate obstacles. Terrorism is among them. In our view, elimination of terrorism in all its forms is a precondition not only for fruitful cooperation but also for the very survival of our region itself."

The minister said that the relevance of SAARC in the future would be determined by the actions taken by the countries against terrorism. He reiterated the need for the full and effective implementation of SAARC Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism, "including through enacting necessary legislation at the national level to root out terrorism."

Jaishankars's remarks came at the very meeting that was boycotted by Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi for the time the Indian minister was making this opening statement.

In his address, Jaishankar noted the need for better connectivity between the SAARC countries. "It is unfortunate that we have not made any headway with reference to some of the connectivity initiatives such as the Motor Vehicles and Railways Agreements. Similarly, there has been no progress in the SAARC Regional Air Services Agreement, initiated by India."

He noted that India attaches great value to the prosperity of the neighbourhood under its 'Neighbourhood First ' policy, and has been "more than willing" to share the fruits of its economic, scientific and technological progress with the South Asian community, as manifested by the serious efforts undertaken towards implementation of the announcements made by our PM Modi at the 18th SAARC Summit.

"The example of South Asian Satellite is Instructive about how India has been taking up the initiatives that bear prosperity to the neighbourhood,' said Jaishankar. "South Asian University (SAU) is another instance where India has been proactive in building academic excellence that will have a generational impact," he said.

"South Asia Satellite, launched in 2017 with an Intention to arrive at scientific solutions to address poverty in the SAARC region has impacts in sectors as varied as health, education, disaster response weather forecasting, and communications," said Jaishankar.

"As committed in the last meeting, with the view to enable Member-states to firm up specific requirements and utilization plans for establishing ground networks, a Utilization Workshop was held by (ISRO) on 11 December 2018 in New Delhi with the participation of technical experts from all participating SAARC Countries," he added.

The minister noted that India has trained 11 training programmes and workshops in Agriculture and Disaster Management since last September. In addition, the SAARC Disaster Management Centre (SDMC-Interim Unit), established in Gujarat has trained more than 350 candidates in the last two years.

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