Gurgaon: India on Tuesday strongly pitched for increased effectiveness of collective action to counter terrorism with zero tolerance, asserting that it was one of the "foremost concerns" as 51 countries exchanged views on strategies to meet non-traditional security challenges such as drug trafficking and money laundering at the ASEM forum.
"These issues were seen as having serious repercussions for regional and global security, particularly because of their tendency to come together to compound the challenge from terrorism. They underlined the need for a comprehensive global approach to counter terrorism," said a statement by the Chair of Asia-Europe Foreign Ministers (ASEM) meeting in consultation with member-states, 34 of which were represented by their foreign ministers.
The participants during the two-day meet also underscored the need to exchange information on activities related cyber crime, where cyber space is used by terrorists for financing, recruitment, communication and radicalisation.
They emphasised the need for ensuring cyber security, while underlining that the security of the Internet should not be achieved at the expense of freedom of expression.
Earlier speaking at the closed-door retreat session, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said, "All terror is unacceptable and must be tackled comprehensively."
The minister also said that India supports the efforts made by the Afghan government to establish a peaceful dialogue with "all opposition groups but this process must be an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned reconciliation process, within the framework of the Afghan Constitution and the internationally accepted red lines."
"The reconciliation process should not in any way, undermine the political, social, and economic progress witnessed in Afghanistan over the past decade," Khurshid warned.
According to well informed sources, Khurshid emphasised that international terrorism continues to grow in sophistication and reach, "confronting many of our countries as a transnational menace".
"Over the last few years, we have seen greater understanding amongst members of the international community that segmented approaches will not work.
"We must increase the effectiveness of collective action to counter terrorism with zero tolerance. We need concerted and cohesive global action against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations," Khurshid told the forum`s meeting on regional and international issues.
India also highlighted that "the principal threat to
Afghanistan`s security and stability even today emanates from terrorism" with Khurshid asserting that peace and stability in that country is in the interest of all of us, according to the sources.
Development and security assistance during this period of transition and beyond would be critical to building a peaceful, stable and resilient Afghanistan, Khurshid said while reiterating India`s commitment to the process of reconstruction and rehabilitation of the war-torn country.
Significantly, Pakistan made no mention of terrorism in its speech and restricted itself to the role to be played by multilaterals in addressing issues of refugees and other matters of humanitarian assistance.
In a press conference, Khurshid said, "Breaking away from the declaratory nature of previous ASEM deliberations, India, as Chair, sought to steer the forum from `dialogue` to `deliverables` and I am glad to say that we were successful in our endeavour.
"ASEM FMM11 was successful in using the strength of political dialogue in ASEM to forge tangible cooperation amongst members. This marks the beginning of a new orientation for future ASEM meetings.
"Members agreed that the dynamism of ASEM should find expression in tangible result-oriented initiatives which could be utilised to define joint responses by Asia and Europe to global and regional challenges and also seize opportunities for growth and development."