India and five Central Asian countries along with Afghanistan on Sunday condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and agreed to cooperate in countering the menace which poses a threat to people across the world.
This was part of a joint statement issued at the end of the first ever meeting of the India-Central Asia Dialogue which also saw the participation of Afghanistan at the ministerial level in Samarkand.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj along with the foreign ministers of Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan took part in the meeting. "All sides condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and agreed to cooperate in countering terrorism which posed a threat to the people and economies of the world," the statement said.
While addressing the first session of the India-Central Asia Dialogue in Uzbekistan on Sunday, India’s External Affairs Minister emphasised that terrorism erodes all avenues of development a country can have, and no business development, no investment can take place in a country affected by terrorism. "Our region is facing serious challenges posed by terrorism. India, Central Asia, and Afghanistan are societies which are tolerant and plural. The ideology of hate which the terrorists would like to spread has no place in our societies," she said.
Hinting at Pakistan and the safe haven provided to terrorist organisations who carry out anti-India activities, she said, "We also need to ask that who these terrorists are, who funds them, how they find sustenance, who protects and sponsors them. To promote business development in our region, it will also be necessary to fight this scourge of terrorism together," added Swaraj.
Union Minister Swaraj is on a two-day visit to Uzbekistan for the India-Central Asia Dialogue. On her agenda were discussing measures with her Uzbeki counterpart for stepping up bilateral cooperation in a number of areas including trade, economy, defence and IT.
On other matters, the Union Minister also said that there is a dire need for both India and Uzbekistan to harness the potential of the youth which is tremendously talented but requires adequate nurturing, support and training.
"We believe that a conducive environment must be created to encourage our youth to find gainful employment and excel in arts, literature, science, sports and other fields. While doing so, we may also instill among them awareness and pride of our shared history," she said.
Union Minister Swaraj, while talking about business to business partnerships, said: "The Government of India has been encouraging its public sector enterprises and private sector to participate in developing economic opportunities in Central Asia." "Development partnership has emerged as an important component of India's engagement with other countries. We are happy to look at ways of extending this partnership to Central Asia as well, where we can bring our countries closer by taking up concrete projects, inter alia, under our Lines of Credit and Buyers' Credit, and by sharing our expertise," she added.
Union Minister Swaraj further said: "India is the fastest growing large economy of the world with a market of 1.3 billion people. It is recognised as a global leader in areas such as information technology, pharmaceuticals, medical services, movie production, science and technology, space sector and in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy."
"There is, therefore, considerable complementarity between India and Central Asia. More efficient connectivity will lead to the full realisation of the growth potential of the region. We are geographically close and, in terms of air connectivity, only about three hours away. The time has come to develop more efficient transit routes, as well as to, better utilise existing opportunities and find innovative solutions," concluded Swaraj. (With ANI inputs)