External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday pitched for better connectivity in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) region, but at the same time underlined that such projects should respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of member states.
In an address at a virtual meeting of SCO Council of Heads of Government (CHG), Jaishankar said the Chabahar port and the International North South Transport Corridor could become enablers for connectivity in the region.
"Represented India at the meeting of SCO Council of Heads of Government which has just concluded. Underlined that we need better connectivity in the SCO region built on centrality of interests of Central Asian states," he tweeted.
The external affairs minister said "connectivity projects should respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of member states and respect international law".
Represented India at the meeting of SCO Council of Heads of Government which has just concluded.— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) November 1, 2022
-Underlined that we need better connectivity in the SCO region built on centrality of interests of Central Asian states. pic.twitter.com/9EjQrekpaX
His remarks are seen as a reference to China's Belt and Road initiative.
"Our total trade with SCO Members is only $141 billion, which has potential to increase manifold. Fair market access is to our mutual benefit and only way to move forward," Jaishankar said.
The CHG meeting is held annually and focuses on the trade and economic agenda of the bloc and to approve its annual budget.
The SCO was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the presidents of Russia, China, the Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Over the years, it has emerged as one of the largest trans-regional international organisations. India and Pakistan became its permanent members in 2017.
The annual SCO summit took place in the Uzbek city of Samarkand last month.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and other leaders of the grouping attended it. Usually, the heads of government meeting of the SCO is represented by foreign ministers while a number of countries send their prime ministers also.