NEW DELHI: Any serious connectivity initiative must be consultative, transparent and participatory, the government asserted at an SCO meet on Thursday. Without naming China or Pakistan, who were represented by Premier Li Keqiang and foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi respectively at the meeting, external affairs minister S Jaishankar said such initiatives must also conform to the most basic principle of international law — respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity. Jaishankar was addressing virtually the SCO Council of Heads of Government meeting in Kazakhstan. “India believes that greater connectivity is an econ-omic force-multiplier which has acquired greater salie-nce in the post-Covid era. Ho-wever, any serious connectivity initiative must be consultative, transparent and participatory,” said Jaishankar, even as he reaffirmed India’s commitment to cooperate, plan, invest and build physical and digital connectivity in the SCO region. In an apparent reference to Pakistan’s efforts to raise the Kashmir issue at SCO, he said it was unfortunate to note there had been repeated attempts to deliberately bring bilateral issues into SCO. “This violates the well-established principles and norms of SCO Charter. Such acts are counterproductive to the spirit of consensus and cooperation that define this organisation and should be condemned,” he said. “India considers the SCO as an important regional group to promote cooperation in various fields based on universally recognised international norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency and equality,” he added.

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