Heart of Asia: Amritsar Declaration recognises terrorism as biggest threat to peace, stability

| Updated: Aug 23, 2017 11:20 IST

Amritsar (Punjab) [India], Dec. 4 (ANI): The sixth Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference concluded here on Sunday with the member nations adopting the 'Amritsar Declaration', recognising the need to work together and comprehensibly to address the menace of terrorism. "The declaration recognises terrorism as the biggest threat to peace and stability, and demands immediate end to all forms of terrorism and all support to financing safe havens and sanctuaries to it. For the first time a Heart of Asia Declaration expressed concern for the violence caused in Afghanistan and the region by terrorist groups like al Qaeda, Daish (ISIS), Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jasih-e-Mohammad," Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in a press conference, jointly held with Afghanistan deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai and Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar. Reading out the Declaration, Jaitley said there were three big issues in which the delegations held extensive deliberations. "The three big issues of the Conference were: one, countering terrorism to create stability and security in Afghanistan; two, providing Afghanistan connectivity to strengthen economic activities; and three, development which is essential for the progress of Afghanistan," he said. Jaitley said that the declarations also called for early finalizations of the draft for Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) and the early meeting of experts to discuss a draft on regional counter-terrorism framework strategy which was recently prepared by Afghanistan for its early finalization. Jaitley pointed out that during the Conference, the member delegates appreciated India's constructive role in supporting Afghanistan and its people for the past decade and half. "You also would have noticed that the choice of Amritsar as the venue of conference was a deliberate one, which intended to highlight the immense potential for regional connectivity and the benefits it can bring to the landlocked Afghanistan provided concerned countries show there required sincerity and political determination," he said. "Specific initiatives in this regard including the India-Iran-Afghanistan trilateral agreements on developing Chabahar (Port) were acknowledged. On India's part, we also engaged bilaterally with Afghanistan to upgrade our connectivity linkages with the aim of making Afghanistan in the words of Prime Minister Modi- 'A Geography of Peace'," he added. Jaitley said the Republic of Azerbaijan would be the co-chair of the next Heart of Asia Conference scheduled to be held in 2017. (ANI)