External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj
on Friday said that terrorism
cannot and should not be associated with any religion as she urged the international community to enhance cooperation to combat the scourge which is a "crime against the entire humanity".
Swaraj, who is in Russia
to attend the summit of Shanghai
Cooperation Organisation (SCO) -- a China-dominated security grouping which is increasingly seen as a counterweight to NATO
-- said that India strongly condemns terrorism
in all its forms and manifestations.
India is attending the SCO
summit as a permanent member for the first time. In June, India and Pakistan
had become full-fledged members of the SCO.
"My congratulations to Pakistan
for becoming the full member of SCO," Swaraj
"This meeting has a special significance for India because it is the first meeting of the Council, after India became the full member of the SCO.
Furthermore, it is being hosted by our old and trusted friend Russia.
"I bring warm greetings and best wishes from our Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the success of this meeting," the minister said.
said that there can be no justification whatsoever for any acts of terrorism.
"We are determined to consistently strengthen cooperation within the SCO
framework, and to work together, to seek comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable security.
"We must reaffirm that terrorism
cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilisation or ethnic group. It is a crime against the entire humanity," she said while addressing the 16th meeting of Council of SCO
heads of governments.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was also present during the summit.
India urges all nations to enhance cooperation in intelligence sharing, law enforcement, developing best practices and technologies, mutual legal assistance, extradition arrangements, capacity building amongst other measures for countering terrorism, Swaraj
The minister said that connectivity with SCO
countries is India's priority.
"We want connectivity to pave the way for cooperation and trust between our societies. For this, respect for sovereignty is essential. Inclusivity, transparency and sustainability are imperative," Swaraj
Connectivity with Afghanistan is an important priority sector for India, and has improved with the operationalisation of the Air Freight Corridor between Kabul, Kandahar and New Delhi this past June, she said.
"Greater involvement of the Central Asian countries in the economic development of Afghanistan especially through enhanced trade, investment and connectivity would serve the purpose of consolidating peace and security in our region," the minister said.
The annual SCO
summit is being held in the Russian city of Sochi on November 30 and December 1.
On economy, Swaraj
said that challenges before the global economy continue to persist.
"Slowdown in the world economy accompanied with increasing tide of protectionism and policy uncertainties will require measures of matching proportions.
"In the background of sluggish economic growth in the world, India's economic growth is expected to accelerate in the long-term and we would like the other SCO
members to be part of India's growth story," she added.
As an SCO
member, India is expected to have a bigger say in pressing for concerted action in dealing with terrorism
as well as on issues relating to security and defence in the region.
India's membership was strongly pushed by Russia
while Pakistan's entry into the grouping was backed by China.
India had been an observer at the SCO
since 2005. It has generally participated in the ministerial-level meetings of the grouping which focus mainly on security and economic cooperation in the Eurasian region.
had set the ball rolling to make India a member of the bloc during its summit in Ufa, Russia, in July 2015.