Connectivity with neighbourhood is India’s priority: PM Modi

Qingdao.  Jun 10:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday emphasized that connectivity projects are India’s priority but such programmes should respect any country’s sovereignty and its territorial integrity.

Speaking at the restricted session of the SCO Summit in the Chinese city of Qingdao, Prime Minister Modi also spoke about the concept of SECURE: ‘S’ for security for citizens, ‘E’ for economic development, ‘C’ for connectivity in the region, ‘U’ for unity, ‘R’ for respect of sovereignty and integrity, and ‘E for environment protection.Modi said connectivity not only meant physical contact but also people-to-people contact.

New Delhi opposes Beijing’s Belt and Road project, whose key artery cuts through the disputed Kashmir held by Pakistan and claimed by India.

“We have again reached a stage where physical and digital connectivity is changing the definition of geography. Therefore, connectivity with our neighbourhood and in the SCO region is our priority,” Modi said at the plenary session of 18th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit at Qingdao International Convention Center in China’s Qingdao city.

“We welcome any new connectivity project, which is inclusive, sustainable and transparent and respects country’s sovereignty and regional integrity.

“India’s active participation in the development of international North South Transport Corridor, Chabahar port shows our commitment,” the Prime Minister said.

Noting that only 6 per cent of foreign tourists in India are from SCO countries, the prime minister said this can easily be doubled.

“Increasing awareness of our shared cultures can help boost this number. We will organise a SCO food festival and a Buddhist festival in India,” he said.

Citing Afghanistan as an “unfortunate example” of effect of terrorism, Modi said he hoped the brave steps towards peace taken by President Ashraf Ghani will be respected by all in the region, apparently referring to a ceasefire announced by the Afghan leader for the Eid festival.

In June 2017, India and Pakistan became full members of the organisation at Astana summit in Kazakhstan.
During the summit, the leaders of the member states will sign the Qingdao Declaration and some other agreements on security, economic cooperation, and people-to-people exchanges.

The leaders will also analyse international and regional security situations and discuss measures to boost cooperation.

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