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India to play active role in Shanghai group

Vladimir Radyuhin

Natwar calls for developing SCO cooperation in the energy sphere


  • India supports SCO objectives — ensuring stability in the region
  • SCO cooperation in the energy sphere sought
  • Transportation networks must be developed

    MOSCOW: External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh declared India's intention to play an active role in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), which it joined as observer in July.

    "India supports the objectives of the SCO, which seeks to ensure stability in the SCO region, combat terrorism and extremist viewpoints," the Minister said in his address at an SCO meeting at the level of heads of government in Moscow on Wednesday. "India is keen on playing a constructive and active role in the SCO."

    The four-year-old Shanghai group comprises six full members — Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and four observer states — India, Iran, Pakistan and Mongolia. Mongolia and Pakistan were represented at the meeting by Prime Ministers, and Iran by a Vice-President.

    Putin's call

    Welcoming the participants in the Kremlin on Wednesday Russian President Vladimir Putin said the Shanghai group should prioritise security issues and the struggle against terrorism.

    Mr. Singh vowed India's support to the SCO initiatives to increase intra-regional trade and economic cooperation. In particular, he called for developing SCO cooperation in the energy sphere.

    "Under the SCO umbrella we have important consumers and producers of the world. It would be worthwhile if energy cooperation could become a priority sector within the ambit of SCO activities," Mr. Singh said. He proposed holding regular meetings of SCO Energy Ministers and said India would welcome the construction of gas pipelines from Iran to Pakistan and India and from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan and Pakistan to India.

    Mr. Singh stressed the need to develop transportation networks, such as the North-South Transport Corridor, which provides a shorter and more efficient trade route to Russia and landlocked Central Asia.

    The Minister welcomed the establishment of an SCO Business Council, a Development Fund and a mechanism for inter-banking cooperation. He offered to share India's "considerable experience" in the financial sector with other SCO members.

    India's strong interest

    Speaking at a brief press conference after the session, Mr. Singh said India attached "great importance to the SCO" and by joining it India signalled "our strong interest in cooperating with the SCO in its initiatives to enhance regional economic cooperation and combat terrorism."

    Foreign Ministers to meet

    Mr. Singh said the Foreign Ministers of India, Russia and China would meet in Delhi next March.

    It will be the second stand-alone meeting in the triangular format. In May, the Foreign Ministers of India, Russia and China met in Vladivostok. They met again in New York during a United Nations session in September.

    Later in the evening, Mr. Singh met with Iran's First Deputy President Parviz Davoodi and China's Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, who are in Moscow to attend the Shanghai group meeting.

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