Bishkek, 26 October 2023 (TDI) Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar spoke at the 22nd session of the Council of Heads of Government of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) at Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan on Thursday.

He urged collaboration among SCO countries in the current global context and highlighted that the interests of Central Asian states are central to the region.

Jaishankar said that the SCO should act together to foster peace and prosperity in the region by following the principles of international law, respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each other, and enhancing economic cooperation.

He also emphasized the importance of sound connectivity and infrastructure projects that respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries.

Moreover, He cautioned against unsustainable debt arising from non-transparent initiatives and suggested that the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) and the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) could be enablers of prosperity.

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He stressed that ‘Strong facilities and links are needed for a better trade environment in the region. Such efforts should respect all nations’ borders and rights. The Global South should not take on unclear loans that they cannot repay. The IMEC and the INSTC can help increase economic prosperity.’

Indian Foreign Minister Jaishankar’s remarks came amid China’s huge investments in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in Pakistan, which India has opposed as it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

The minister also expressed India’s support for the efforts of the Central Asian states to preserve and promote their cultural and civilizational heritage.

He mentioned India’s historical and cultural ties with the region and its contributions to various fields such as education, health, agriculture, energy, IT, and disaster management.

Jaishankar also met with his counterparts from Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Russia on the sidelines of the SCO meeting. He discussed bilateral and regional issues of mutual interest and explored ways to increase cooperation in various sectors.

The SCO is a Eurasian political, economic, and security alliance comprising eight member states: China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. India became a full member of the SCO in 2017.