India strongly raises terrorism issue at SCO FMs' meet in China

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"We are determined to consistently strengthen cooperation within the SCO framework for comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security", Swaraj told the SCO foreign ministers.

However, Sitharaman also pledged that "India will engage with a positive approach and an open mind on all issues related to defense cooperation within the SCO framework". India was the sole member state refusing to endorse China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which encompasses the CPEC projects in Pakistan.

India has operationalised the air freight corridor between Kabul, Kandahar, New Delhi and Mumbai past year.

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While each minister held bilateral talks with other SCO members, including host Wei Fenghe, China's defense minister, there was no India-Pakistan bilateral defense meeting. The picture of Sitharaman with her male counterparts is from the recent Defence Ministers meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

In this context, she also called upon SCO member states to work towards the goal of a stable, secure and peaceful Afghanistan.

Amid fears that ISIS is moving militants into Central Asia, terrorism was also an important topic of discussion.

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In an obvious reference to Pakistan, she said it was critical to realize that the fight is not just to eliminate terrorism but to take strong action against states that encourage, support and finance terrorism and provide sanctuary to terrorists and terror groups.

She also seemed to take aim at Pakistan, saying terrorism can not be eradicated without addressing the states that finance, support and provide sanctuary to terrorist networks.

Close on the heels of China visits by Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and Minister of Defence Nirmala Sitharaman is an "informal summit" between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping over the weekend. Islamabad has always been accused of doing all of the above, losing security aid from the USA amid similar allegations.

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Earlier, issuing a statement, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, "The two leaders will have communications of a strategic nature concerning the once in a century shifts going on in the world". Beijing has assured relations between China and Pakistan will "never rust". Xi added that he will discuss these and other issues with President Vladimir Putin when they meet in June at the SCO Summit of Heads of State and Government in the city of Qingdao, in the eastern Chinese province of Shandong.

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