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Sushma Swaraj, French counterpart discuss anti-terror cooperation

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French Foreign Minister Le Drian on Friday held a telephonic conversation with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and informed her about France taking steps to impose financial sanctions on Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar.

"French Foreign Minister also informed that France has raised this issue with the European Union. He reiterated that France has always been and will always be on India's side in the fight against terrorism," Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said.

Swaraj thanked her French counterpart's steadfast support and said that India looked forward to continuing cooperation on anti-terrorism front.

"This action on the part of France was an expression of partnership with India and was in consonance with the global intent by responsible nations committed to fight against terror, including cross-border terrorism anywhere in the world," an external affairs ministry statement said.

Earlier, India welcomed France's decision of putting sanctions on Azhar by freezing his assets.

MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar took to Twitter saying, "We welcome the decision taken by France to sanction Masood Azhar, Chief of Jaish-e-Mohammed, a Pakistan-based & UN proscribed terrorist organisation; and responsible for the Pulwama terrorist attack."

France's decision came two days after China on March 14 blocked Azhar's listing as a global terrorist at the UN Security Council.

This was the fourth time in the last ten years, when China, on March 13, put a technical hold on a proposal by the US, the UK and France, among others, to enlist Pakistan-based Azhar as a global terrorist at the UNSC, despite his outfit carrying out the ghastly Pulwama terror attack on February 14, which killed over 40 CRPF personnel.

"France has decided to sanction Masood Azhar at the national level by freezing his assets in application of the Monetary and Financial Code. A joint decree of the Ministries of the Interior, and Economy and Finance was published today in the Official Gazette," a release issued by France noted.

"A deadly attack took place in Pulwama on 14th February 2019, claiming over 40 victims from the Indian police forces. The Jaish-e-Mohammed, which the United Nations has deemed to be a terrorist organization since 2001, has claimed responsibility for this attack...France has always been and always will be by India's side in the fight against terrorism," the statement outlined.

"We will raise this issue with our European partners with a view to including Masood Azhar on the European Union list of persons, groups and entities involved in terrorist acts, based on this decree," it added.

China has since defended its technical hold to the UN resolution, saying it needed "more time" as it is "conducting a comprehensive and in-depth review" on the listing request put forth by the countries - a stance that has been widely criticised.

According to sources, more than 10 countries supported as co-sponsors India's bid to designate Azhar as a global terrorist in the United Nations Security Council 1267 list.

Furthermore, France will also be raising the issue with its European partners in a bid to include Azhar on the European Union list of persons, groups and entities involved in terrorist acts.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Sat, March 16 2019. 06:07 IST
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