Fri, 06 Dec 2019

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said India will help develop infrastructure in the Central Asian region.

"Our ties with Central Asia are very old," Modi said while addressing the 15th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit here.

"India will be pleased to contribute to the development of infrastructure in the region," he said.

The prime minister noted that India has been "actively participating in SCO activities that are open to observers".

"Our membership of SCO is a natural extension of these relationships and mirrors the region's place in India's future," he said.

SCO leaders are set to pass a resolution on starting the procedures to grant India and Pakistan full membership of the organisation.

Founded in 2001, the SCO has China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as its full members.

Afghanistan, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan are observers while Belarus, Turkey and Sri Lanka are dialogue partners.

Modi said India would "support efforts to create an environment that eases barriers and facilitates trade and investments in the region".

Observing that the SCO region is characterised by a rich diversity of cultures, Modi said: " Our association with SCO will seek to advance our shared vision to reconnect and integrate Eurasia's different regions."

He also called for promoting deeper understanding and exchanges, saying that these, "especially among our youth, will promote greater unity in the region and beyond".

"The future of prosperity rests on the foundation of peace. India will contribute to advancing peace and friendship in the region," the prime minister said.

He said India would join SCO in the fight against terrorism.

"We will work with SCO to combat terrorism and extremism."

Assuring India's full cooperation to the SCO, Modi said: "For the past few centuries, we have all looked away from the centre of this great landmass, towards the sea and other regions. The time has come reach out to each other across the region."

He said India looked forward to lending its support to "building infrastructure, easing barriers of trade, expanding connectivity".

The prime minister said India would deepen its engagement with SCO member-states in human resource development, information and communication technology, pharmaceuticals and health, banking and capital markets, micro- small and medium enterprises (MSME), micro-finance and food security.

"SCO is an important part of our vision. I assure you of India's full cooperation to SCO," Modi said in his speech.

In the course of his speech, he also congratulated Pakistan for joining the SCO.

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