India takes jibe at Pakistan, lists cross-border terrorism among three challenges in front of South Asia

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New Delhi: Hitting out at Pakistan, External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar on Thursday listed three key challenges in front of South Asia at the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Foreign Ministers meet.

Addressing the informal and virtual SAARC FMs meet, the EAM said that cross-border terrorism, blocking connectivity and obstructing trade are the three challenges. He added these have to be overcome and “only then will we see enduring peace, prosperity and security in our South Asia region”.

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“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,” he said taking to micro-blogging site Twitter.

This meet takes place every year on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) but this year it is taking place virtually due to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

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.

— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) September 24, 2020

In the meet, EAM, “Reaffirmed India’s commitment to Neighbourhood First policy” and “towards building a connected, integrated, secure and prosperous South Asia”.

Special focus was on jointly dealing the COVID-19 crisis with Jaishankar highlighting how New Delhi committed to USD10 million for COVID-19 emergency fund and how it has reached out to several countries of SAARC with essential drugs, COVID-19 protection and testing kits.

Addressed the #SAARC Foreign Ministers Informal Meeting today. Reaffirmed India’s commitment to Neighbourhood First policy and towards building a connected, integrated, secure and prosperous South Asia. pic.twitter.com/z0Q9AmRxeP

— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) September 24, 2020

He emphasized how India supported SAARC neighbours amidst COVID-19 and gave examples of Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka. India extended USD 150 million foreign currency swap support to the Maldives, currency swap support of USD 200 million to Bhutan and USD 400 million to Sri Lanka during the course of this year.

Amidst the pandemic, health professionals of SAARC met to share information and best practices of the region and SAARC Food Bank mechanism was activated to mitigate the adverse impact of the crisis. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken a lead in calling SAARC heads of governments virtual meet to deal with the crisis. This was the first such regional meet on COVID crisis anywhere in the world.

Bangladesh foreign minister Abdul Momen, Nepali FM Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, Afghan FM Mohammad Hanif Atmar, Maldives FM Abdulla Shahid, Bhutan FMTandi Dorji, Sri Lankan FM  Dinesh Gunawardene were present in the meet.

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