Sat, 20 Aug 2022

New Delhi [India], November 25 (ANI): In a veiled reference to China's Belt and Road Initiative, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday said any serious connectivity initiative must be consultative, transparent and participatory and conform to principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Addressing the 20th Meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of Government, Jaishankar said India today is an emerging economic force at the global level and despite the economic devastation caused by COVID-19, India's agile response in fighting the pandemic and ensuring economic stability has been noteworthy.

He said India believes that greater connectivity is an economic force-multiplier which has acquired greater salience in the post-Covid era.

"However, any serious connectivity initiative must be consultative, transparent and participatory. It must conform to the most basic principle of international law - respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity," Jaishankar said.

He said India has been taking steps to operationalize the Chabahar port in Iran to provide secure and commercially viable access to the sea for Central Asian countries.

"We have also proposed to include the Chabahar port in the framework of International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC). I would like to reaffirm India's commitment to cooperate, plan, invest and build physical and digital connectivity in the SCO region," he said.

The minister, who addressed the event through video conference, said the socio-political impact of COVID-19 is far from over and has exposed the weakness of global institutions.

"This is the time to bring in much-needed reforms to our global institutions, including the WHO, and rework our development strategies to face a post-COVID-19 world. For this, we need a Reformed and Reinvigorated Multilateralism that reflects today's realities, which gives voice to all stakeholders, addresses contemporary challenges and puts human beings at the centre of our thought and policies," he said. (ANI)

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