Panaji, May 5: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar Friday said that the menace of terrorism continues "unabated" and must be stopped in all its forms and manifestations including cross-border terrorism.
In his opening address of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)'s Council of Foreign Ministers meeting here today, Jaishankar said that as the world was engaged in facing Covid and its consequences, the menace of terrorism continues unabated. "Taking our eyes off this menace would be detrimental to our security interests," he said. "We firmly believe that there can be no justification for terrorism and it must be stopped in all its forms and manifestations including cross-border terrorism. Combating terrorism is one of the original mandates of SCO," Jaishankar said.
"The channel of activities for terrorist activities must be seized and blocked without distinction. Members need not be reminded that combating terrorism is one of the original mandates of the SCO," the external affairs minister added.
In his address at the SCO-CFMs meeting, Jaishankar also pursued the support of member states for the long-standing demand of India to make English the 3rd official language of SCO.
"I am pleased to note that the discussion on issues of reform and modernization of SCO has already commenced. I also seek the support of member states for the long-standing demand of India to make English the 3rd official language of SCO, to enable a deeper engagement with English-speaking member states," said Jaishankar in Goa.
Joint Secretary (JS) ER Dhammu Ravi and MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi, were sitting behind Jaishankar during his address. Joint Secretary (JS) SCO Yojna Patel was also present.
"As SCO chair we've initiated an unprecedented engagement with SCO observers and dialogue partners by inviting them to participate in more than 14 social-cultural events," Jaishankar said.
The foreign minister also made a mention of Afghanistan in his speech "Unfolding situation in Afghanistan remains at the centre of our attention. Efforts should be directed towards the welfare of Afghan people," he said.
"Our immediate priorities in Afghanistan include providing humanitarian aid, ensuring a truly inclusive government, combating terror," Jaishankar said.
Earlier today, Jaishankar greeted Pakistan foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari with a "Namastey" ahead of the CFM meeting.
Visuals showed the Jaishankar greeting Zardari in Indian tradition with a "Namastey", avoiding a handshake. On his arrival in Goa yesterday Zardari had said he looks forward to constructive discussions with his counterparts from friendly countries.
"I am happy to have arrived in Goa to participate in the SCO. I am leading the Pakistan delegation at SCO and hope that the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) will be successful," Zardari said in a video on Thursday shared by Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson.
On Thursday, Jaishankar held a meeting with Chinese counterpart Qin Gang. The discussions focussed on resolving outstanding issues and ensuring "peace and tranquillity" in the border areas.
SCO is an intergovernmental organisation established in 2001. The SCO has India, Russia, China, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as its members. India took over the rotating presidency of the SCO at the summit held in Samarkand in 2022.