NEW DELHI, (NDTV): At the Heart of Asia Summit today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi underscored the need to wipe out the terror network, saying it was endangering the entire region. A declaration released at the end of the summit called for immediate eradication of terror to help war-ravaged Afghanistan, which is chairing the meet.
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At the summit, which started amid heightened tension between Pakistan and India, PM Modi said, “Support for voices of peace in Afghanistan is not enough. It must be backed by resolute action.”
Without naming Pakistan, he added, “Silence and inaction against terrorism in Afghanistan and our region will only embolden terrorists and their masters.”
Ashraf Ghani, President of Afghanistan, which is the permanent chair for the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process, said, “We thank Pakistan for their pledges of $500 million assistance for reconstruction of Afghanistan. I hope you use it to fight terrorists and extremists in Pakistan… No amount of money can assist us if there is support to terrorists by Pakistan.”
Pakistan’s Foreign Advisor Sartaj Aziz, who was present at the meet, later said, “It is simplistic to blame only one country for the recent upsurge in violence. We need to have an objective and holistic view.” He said his participation in the event was proof of Pakistan’s “unflinching commitment” for peace in Afghanistan and the region.
Ahead of the meet, PM Modi and Afghan President Ghani held bilateral talks focusing on a range of key issues including boosting trade and investment, India’s reconstruction activities in the war-ravaged country and ways to strengthen defence and security partnership.
India — the host and co-chair of the meet – and Afghanistan are looking at the option of an air corridor. Pakistan allows Afghanistan to export goods to the Wagah-Attari border but doesn’t allow Indian goods to return on those trucks.
The 14 participating nations are helping war-ravaged Afghanistan in its political and economic transition. Progress on six confidence-building measures was also discussed.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley co-chaired the meeting in the absence of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is undergoing treatment at Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences for kidney failure.
Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and the United Arab Emirates are part of the Heart of Asia initiative launched in 2011 for encouraging economic and security cooperation between Afghanistan and its neighbours for dealing with the common problems of terrorism, extremism and poverty.
The conference started in Amritsar on Saturday, triggering speculation on whether India and Pakistan will engage in bilateral talks on the event’s sidelines. The Foreign Ministry insists there was no formal meet, though NSA Ajit Doval and Sartaj Aziz did walk and talk briefly at an official dinner on Saturday. Earlier this week, Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit had said Pakistan was ready for unconditional resumption of dialogue if India was ready.
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