New Delhi: In the presence of Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, External AffairsMinister Dr S Jaishankar on Thursday urged SAARC member nations to "collectively resolve to defeat" the scourge of terrorism.
At an informal virtual meet of SAARC foreign ministers hosted by Nepal, Dr Jaishankar also sought actions against the "forces that nurture, support and encourage an environment of terror and conflict" which impede the objective of SAARC to realise its full potential for collaboration and prosperity across South Asia.
In a tweet, Dr Jaishankar also wrote: "Cross-border terrorism, blocking connectivity and obstructing trade are three key challenges that SAARC must overcome. Only then will we see enduring peace, prosperity and security in our South Asia region".
An MEA statement here said Dr Jaishankar, participated in the "annual Informal Meeting of the SAARC Council of Ministers" on the sidelines of UNGA chaired by Nepal, was held in virtual mode and saw the participation of all SAARC member states.
The Informal meetings, held since 1997, take advantage of the opportunity provided by the presence of the Foreign Ministers at UN General Assembly sessions to exchange views on SAARC issues. This year owing to COVID, the meet was held in virtual mode.
The meeting received a report from the Secretary-General on the status of regional cooperation since the last informal meeting of the SAARC Council of Ministers in New York on September 26, 2019.
The meeting reviewed regional efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
In particular, participants appreciated the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in convening a video conference of SAARC Leaders on March 15, 2020, to take "collaborative measures towards combating the pandemic across the region".
This included the creation of SAARC COVID-19 Emergency Fund, to which all countries have pledged voluntary contributions.
Dr Jaishankar, in his statement, reiterated India's steadfast commitment to SAARC in building a connected, integrated, secure and prosperous South Asia. He highlighted a slew of measures taken by India in the follow-up to the SAARC Leaders video conference, including virtually convening health professionals and trade officials meetings, creating a 'COVID-19 Information Exchange Platform (COINEX), foreign currency swap support and activation of SAARC Food Bank mechanism.
The External Affairs Minister informed other counterparts that under India's contribution to SAARC COVID-19 Emergency Fund, the supply of essential drugs, medical consumables, COVID protection and testing kits, and other equipment, amounting USD 2.3 million, were made available to countries in the SAARC region.
He reiterated India's continued commitment to assisting countries in the SAARC region in combating COVID-19 pandemic.