External Affair Minister Sushma Swaraj asserted that terrorism remained the single largest threat to peace and stability in the South Asian region and also to the world.
Addressing the SAARC foreign ministers, on the margins of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly, she made it clear that “an environment of peace and security is essential for regional cooperation to progress and achieve economic development and prosperity of our people. The number of threats and incidents that endanger South Asia are on the rise.”
The meeting was attended by foreign ministers of the SAARC bloc – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. “It is necessary that we eliminate the scourge of terrorism in all its forms, without any discrimination, and end the ecosystem of its support,” she added.
Swaraj stressed that meetings, including high-level ones, can only be effective if expressions of resolve are translated into concrete action on the ground. It may be recalled that India had boycotted the 2016 SAARC summit citing Islamabad’s unrelenting support to terrorist activities in India and and after Pakistan-based terrorists attacked an Indian Army base in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir. Bhutan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan had also joined India in boycotting the summit.
Swaraj voiced India’s commitment to regional cooperation, saying it attaches highest priority to the development and prosperity of the region, under the government’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy.