'Heart of Asia' conference to kick off in Amritsar today

| Updated: Dec 03, 2016 16:40 IST

Amritsar (Punjab) [India], Dec. 3 (ANI): The sixth 'Heart of Asia' ministerial conference will kick off here on Saturday to discuss peace, cooperation and economic development in Afghanistan. Delegates from nearly 40 countries will participate in the conference organised on the theme 'Addressing Challenges, Achieving Prosperity'. The main conference will be inaugurated jointly by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will lead the Indian delegation in place of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is unwell. Today, the foreign secretaries will have deliberations, while Ministers will attend the conference on Sunday. Eliminating terrorism in South Asia and improving connectivity in Afghanistan is likely to dominate the discussions. Pakistan Ambassador to Afghanistan Abrar Hussain is also set to participate in the official level talks today. Describing terrorism as a constant threat, especially to India and Afghanistan, which is a creation of this region, Afghanistan Ambassador to India Dr. Shaida Abdalion said on Wednesday that Kabul expects the Heart of Asia will approve and adopt the Regional Counterterrorism Framework drafted by Afghanistan. Giving Afghanistan's perspective on the conference, Abdali said, "Unless we take a collective measure to fight terrorism; to fight the breeding ground of terrorism; and the safe sanctuaries; we will not be able to bring peace and stability either in Afghanistan or any other nation in the region, mainly in India." Stating that terrorism is a creation of this region, the Afghanistan envoy observed that the solution also lies within the region. Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Foreign Policy Advisor Sartaj Aziz is also scheduled to attend the conference; however, no bilateral meeting is expected on the sidelines. In view of the event, the holy city has been turned into a fortress with deployment of 11 companies of the paramilitary forces and over 5,000 policemen. Heart of Asia Process was launched in 2011 from Istanbul. The conference is a platform for regional cooperation by placing Afghanistan at its center. (ANI)
iocl