Peace and security in the SCO region demands a climate of trust, non-aggression, respect for international rules and peaceful resolution of differences, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Friday, seen as an indirect message to China which is engaged in a festering border row with India in eastern Ladakh.
In his address at a ministerial meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) here in the Russian capital, Singh also referred to the Second World War and said its memories teach the globe the “folies of aggression” of one state upon another that brings “destruction” to all.
Both India and China are members of the SCO, an eight-nation regional grouping which primarily focuses on issues relating to security and defence.
“Peaceful stable and secure region of SCO member states, which is home to over 40 per cent of the global population, demands a climate of trust and cooperation, non-aggression, respect for international rules and norms, sensitivity to each other’s interest and peaceful resolution of differences,” Singh said.
He made the comments in the presence of Chinese Defence Minister Gen. Wei Fenghe.
Indian and Chinese troops are engaged in a bitter standoff in multiple places in eastern Ladakh for four months. Tensions flared up in the region after China unsuccessfully attempted to occupy Indian territory in the southern bank of Pangong lake five days back.
“This year marks the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War as well as the formation of the United Nations which underpins a peaceful world, where international laws and sovereignty of states are respected and states refrain from unilateral aggression on another,” he said.
The defence minister also talked about threat of terrorism and extremism and pitched for having institutional capacity to deal with the challenges.
He said India “unequivocally” condemns terrorism in all forms and manifestations, and condemns its “proponents”, adding New Delhi values the works of SCO Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS).
“We laud recent work of RATS in the cyber domain to prevent the spread of radicalism and extremism. The adoption of anti-terror measures by the SCO Council to counter extremist propaganda and de-radicalisation is a significant decision,” he added.
In his address at the combined meeting of defence ministers of SCO, Collective Security Treaty Organisation and Commonwealth of Independent States member states, Singh said India was committed to the evolution of a global security architecture which will be “open, transparent, inclusive, rules-based and anchored in international laws.”
He also expressed deep concern over the situation in the Persian Gulf region.
“India has vital interests and links of civilisation and culture with all States in the Gulf. We call upon countries in the region, all of which are dear and friendly to India, to resolve differences by dialogue based on mutual respect, sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs of each other,” he said.
Referring to developments in Afghanistan, Singh said the security situation in the country remained a matter of concern.
“India will continue to support the efforts of the people and Government of Afghanistan for an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled inclusive peace process…The SCO contact group on Afghanistan is useful for exchanging notes among SCO member states,” he said.
Singh also thanked Russia for organising the annual anti-terror exercise ‘Peace Mission’, which he said contributed to building trust and sharing of experience among defence forces.
Talking about the coronavirus pandemic, he said it reminded the world that mankind must forget differences to prevent and mitigate higher forces of nature.
“We applaud Russian scientists and health workers for spearheading the Sputnik V vaccine,” he added.