India calls for regional approach to Afghanistan at SCO

June 11th, 2010 - 9:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Tashkent, June 11 (IANS) India Friday pitched for a regional approach to counter terrorism and said the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) can play “a constructive role” and provide a “critical regional approach” in stabilizing war-torn Afghanistan.
“SCO has played a constructive and forward-looking role over the past few months in the international deliberations on the future of Afghanistan,” External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said in the Uzbek capital at the plenary session of the SCO summit.

“We commend this and believe that the SCO is uniquely fitted to provide positive contributions to the global discourse on Afghanistan,” he said.

“SCO can certainly add a critical regional perspective and play a constructive role in ensuring a peaceful and stable Afghanistan,” Krishna said.

“We in India stand committed to the social and economic development of Afghanistan. We see Afghanistan as a hub for transit, trade and energy, connecting Central Asia and South Asia,” the minister added.

Underlining India’s desire to play “a more constructive and meaningful role as an observer” in the SCO, Krishna stressed on regional cooperation in combating the evils of terrorism, extremism and narco-trafficking that are plaguing the region.

“India, as a victim of terrorism, understands the threat posed by this menace to economic and social development. Regional cooperation to counter terrorism can play a key role in supporting action taken by individual countries,” he said.

He added that India was ready to “cooperate fully with this important organization for exchanging information and working out a common strategy for combating terrorism.”

The SCO summit is also discussing the rules and procedures for expanding the membership of the SCO that comprises Russia, China and Central Asian republics including Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.

India, Pakistan, Iran and Mongolia currently have observer status at the SCO.

In the past few months, India has shown an interest in joining the SCO, which has emerged as an important regional security organization with networks of energy supplies and common approach towards counter-terrorism and security challenges facing the region.

Last year, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh participated in the SCO summit at Yekaterinburg in Russia as an observer, the first time India was represented at this level at the regional summit.

As counter-terrorism is an important focus of the SCO, India feels that its fuller participation in the grouping would enable it to counter the rise of Taliban in Afghanistan by cooperating closely with other like-minded countries in the region.

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