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Heart of Asia conference begins with focus on tackling terror in region

The annual conference of Heart of Asia- Istabul Process will also see the participation of Pakistan’s foreign affairs’ advisor Sartaj Aziz.

india Updated: Dec 03, 2016 13:46 IST

Flags of different countries installed outside the venue of Heart of Asia conference in Amritsar.(Gurpreet Singh/ HT Photo)

As Afghanistan faces the resurgence of Taliban, a conference of major regional and global powers began on Saturday in Amritsar to explore ways to effectively deal with threat of terrorism in the region, its complex security matrix and help the war-ravaged nation in its transition.

Being attended by nearly 40 countries and leading groupings like the European Union, the annual conference of the Heart of Asia -- Istanbul Process is deliberating on various challenges facing Afghanistan, including revival of a peace process in the conflict-ridden country.

On Saturday, senior officials of all 14 countries, including India, China, Russia, Iran and Pakistan, and representatives of 17 supporting nations were deliberating on a vast range of issues facing the region including its complex security scenario and dealing with threat of terrorism, radicalisation and extremism.

  • The conference is being attended by nearly 40 countries including groups like European Union.
  • The annual conference is deliberating on various challenges facing war-torn Afghanistan.
  • Senior officials from countries like China, Russia, Iran and Pakistan were also present.
  • Pakistani prime minister’s foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz will be present in the discussions on Sunday

Issues such as enhancing Afghanistan’s connectivity with South and Central Asian countries to boost trade were discussed at the senior officials’ meeting which was co-chaired by India’s foreign secretary S Jaishankar and deputy foreign minister of Afghanistan Hikmat Khaleel Karzai.

The meeting is finalising the text for tomorrow’s Ministerial Conference and is also deliberating on its Declaration which will have substantial portion on terrorism.

Pakistani prime minister’s foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz is representing Islamabad at the Ministerial conference on Sunday which will be jointly inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

Read| Sartaj Aziz to visit India on Sunday for Heart of Asia meet

The annual conference is taking place amid heightened tension between India and Pakistan in the wake of the audacious terror attack on Nagrota army base and there was no clarity on an Indo-Pak bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the conclave.

India had already made it clear that it would never accept continuing cross-border terrorism as the “new normal” in bilateral ties with Pakistan while making it clear that talks cannot take place in an atmosphere of “continued terror”.

At the senior officials’ meeting, Afghanistan, which has also been facing increased attacks from terror groups operating from Pakistan, pushed for a regional counter-terror framework.

Ahead of the conference, both India and Afghanistan had called terror emanating from Pakistan as the “greatest threat” to regional peace and stability, and both the countries are set to press hard for adopting the counter-terror framework at tomorrow’s deliberations.