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‘The Heart of Asia Meet’ begins in Islamabad

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Islamabad:  The Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process meeting commenced on Tuesday to finalize an agenda for a ministerial conference to be held on Wednesday.

The Pakistan prime minister’s foreign affairs adviser, Sartaj Aziz, and Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Khalil Hekmat Karzai jointly inaugurated the day-long meeting of senior officials.

Karzai emphasized on a united and collective approach to counter the menace of terrorism and violent extremism at the meeting, and further said at the opening session, “The Heart of Asia conference is taking place at a critical juncture when the region is confronted by many challenges including terrorism.”

He said the activities of terror outfits including the ISIS has reminded the related parties of the gravity of the problem and demanded a collective approach to tackling this international phenomenon.

“Afghanistan is determined to continue to fight against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations,” he remarked, adding that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan was in the best interest of the region.

Aziz said that Pakistan desired durable peace in Afghanistan as instability there was not in the interest of the country and “Pakistan will continue to support all endeavors aiming at strengthening peace and security in Afghanistan.”

He said that since the launching of Heart of Asia conference in 2011, the forum has made good progress towards the realisation of its core objective of promoting durable peace and stability in Afghanistan. The key achievements include political consultation involving Afghanistan and its neighbours and the regional countries with a view to promoting mutual trust in the areas of security and economic interaction.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will jointly inaugurate the Fifth Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process Ministerial Conference in Islamabad on Wednesday.The theme is “Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process: Enhanced Cooperation for Countering Security Threats and Promoting Connectivity in the Heart of Asia Region”.

Foreign Ministers of ten countries including India, China, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Iran have confirmed participation.

Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was scheduled to arrive in Islamabad on Tuesday to attend the meeting. She will also meet Sharif and Aziz on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia meeting.

The Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process was established in 2011 at the initiative of Afghanistan and Turkey, mainly focusing on promoting efforts for regional cooperation and connectivity with a view to fostering long-term peace and stability as well as progress and development in Afghanistan and the region.

The Fifth Ministerial Conference is expected to adopt a forward-looking Islamabad Declaration entitled “Enhanced Cooperation for Countering Security Threats and Promoting Connectivity in the Heart of Asia Region”.

(IANS)

(Picture Credit: crazy4images.com)

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Saudi Arabia to Cooperate with India in Combating Terrorism

Prince Salman said Wednesday that there were potential opportunities for investment of $ 100 billion in India.

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Saudi Arabia, Modi, Terrorism
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India, Feb. 20, 2019. VOA

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in New Delhi that terrorism is a common concern and his country would cooperate with India in combating terrorism and extremism.

On a visit to New Delhi, Prince Salman said Wednesday that there were potential opportunities for investment of $ 100 billion in India.

His trip to New Delhi has coincided with spiraling tensions between India and Pakistan in the wake of a terror attack that killed 40 paramilitaries in Indian Kashmir.

Prince Salman’s meetings with Indian leaders came two days after he went to Pakistan. He did not mention the attack on Indian soldiers, but at a joint press appearance with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi he said “we reaffirm to India that we are ready to work in the intelligence sharing and political arenas to coordinate our efforts on terrorism.”

Referring to the recent “barbaric” attack in Kashmir, Modi said that the two countries had agreed that “it is extremely important to increase all possible pressure on countries supporting terrorism in any way.” The Indian leader said that destroying the infrastructure of terrorism, and punishing terrorists and their supporters is necessary.

India, Saudi Arabia, terrorism
The two countries signed five agreements in the areas of investment, tourism, housing and communications. Wikimedia

New Delhi, which accuses Pakistan of giving sanctuary to terror groups that carry out strikes in India, is trying to build diplomatic pressure against Islamabad. It gave Prince Salman a warm welcome with Modi breaking protocol to receive him personally at the airport on Tuesday.

The Saudi Arabian Crown Prince, who also was warmly welcomed in Pakistan, had pledged investment deals worth $ 20 billion during his Islamabad visit.

Modi said that India and Saudi Arabia had agreed to to strengthen cooperation on counter-terrorism, naval and cyber security.

As both leaders hailed deepening ties, they also sounded an optimistic note on building business and trade ties. The Saudi Crown Prince, who came to New Delhi with a large business delegation, said that Riyadh had invested $44 billion in India since 2016. He said that there were opportunities for investment of $ 100 billion in India in areas such as energy, agriculture and technology.

Two-way trade totaled over $ 27 billion last year. Saudi Arabia is a top supplier of oil to India, which is one of the world’s largest oil importers and provides about one fifth of its crude.

India, saudi arabia, terrorism
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, center left, and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, center right, witness the signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Petroleum, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Feb. 17, 2019. VOA

The two countries signed five agreements in the areas of investment, tourism, housing and communications.

Prince Salman said that his visit to India will improve centuries-old ties between the countries, which he said are “in our DNA.” Ties between the two countries have been on an upswing since Modi visited Riyadh in 2016 as part of efforts to strengthen ties with Middle East countries.

ALSO READ: Saudi, India Admit of Putting Pressure on Countries Supporting Terrorism

The Saudi crown prince is on his first major overseas tour since the storm over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October. He is expected to visit China after India. (VOA)