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Terrorism in focus as BRICS foreign ministers' meet begins in Beijing

The event is being held in the run-up to the 9th BRICS summit, to be held in the Chinese city of Xiamen in September.

world Updated: Jun 19, 2017 09:18 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Minister of state for external affairs VK Singh greets Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi during a bilateral meeting in Beijing on Sunday.
Minister of state for external affairs VK Singh greets Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi during a bilateral meeting in Beijing on Sunday. (PTI photo)

The agenda of the BRICS group of nations has expanded over the years to include counter-terrorism, and security officials from member countries reached a “significant understanding” on the issue last year, minister of state for external affairs VK Singh said on Monday.

In his opening statement ahead of the first BRICS foreign ministers’ meet, Singh said top security officials from all the member countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) were scheduled to meet in July to take forward the discussions held by the joint working group on counter-terrorism last month.

“Besides cooperating on financial issues, the BRICS agenda has witnessed steady expansion. The BRICS joint working group on counter-terrorism concluded its meeting in May 2017. Our national security advisors are scheduled to meet next month. In the (New) Delhi meeting last year, they had reached a significant understanding on enhancing cooperation in security and counter-terrorism,” Singh said.

Singh made these comments days after China said it was opposed to “double standards” in fighting terrorism ahead of the first BRICS foreign ministers’ meeting. “On counter-terrorism, we have a clear-cut position that terrorism is the common enemy of humankind. We oppose any double standards adopted by countries in counter-terrorism efforts,” Lu Kang, foreign ministry spokesperson, had stated on Friday.

Lu said five foreign ministers will “conduct a candid exchange of views” on terrorism. His previous comments and Singh’s mention of counter-terrorism indicate that the issue will be in sharp focus during the meeting between the five foreign ministers.

New Delhi is expected to flag the issue of cross-border terrorism from Pakistan – particularly in the case of Pakistan-based terrorist Masood Azhar allegedly masterminding terror attacks in India – at the meeting. China has repeatedly blocked New Delhi’s efforts to get Jaish chief Masood Azhar added to a UN list of proscribed terrorists, stating that there isn’t enough evidence against him.

Besides Singh, Monday’s meeting – chaired by Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi – will also have his counterparts from Russia (Sergey Lavrov), South Africa (Maite Nkoana-Mashabane) and Brazil (Aloysio Nunes) in attendance.

“India attaches great importance to BRICS,” said Singh. “We continue to work closely with all our partners in the spirit of mutual trust, respect and transparency to further enhance and strengthen our bonds.”

The minister also spoke on India’s efforts to promote BRICS as a brand among member states. “During our chairmanship in 2016, India tried to consolidate BRICS as a brand by involving our cities and masses in the BRICS process. We paid special attention to enhancing intra-BRICS collaboration and strengthening people-to-people exchanges. We are very happy to see that the process is being carried forward under China’s able chairmanship,” Singh said.

The foreign ministers’ meeting is being held in the run-up to the 9th BRICS summit, to be held in the Chinese city of Xiamen in September.