External affairs minister S Jaishankar on Thursday called for closer cooperation among SCO nations under the prevailing global situation, and emphasised that the centrality of interests of Central Asian states will play a significant role.
Addressing the opening of the SCO Heads of Government meeting in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Jaishankar said, "Today when the world is facing challenges, looming economic recession, broken supply chains, food and energy insecurity this calls for closer cooperation with the SCO. In this context, the centrality of the interests of Central Asian States plays a key role."
Highlighting the significance of the proposed India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor and the International North-South Transport Corridor, the external affairs minister further said,
"We should bear in mind that the Global South should not be saddled with unviable debt arising from opaque initiatives. I am confident that the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor and the International North–South Transport Corridor could become enablers in bringing economic prosperity to the region."
Focussing on relations with SCO nations, he went on to add that India is keen to partner with Member States for sustainable, mutually beneficial and financially viable solutions.
"As we strive to improve trade within the region, we need robust connectivity and infrastructure. India has accorded utmost priority to these domains in its own developmental journey, at the same time connectivity initiatives should always respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries," Jaishankar added.
Focussing on the resilience of the Indian economy, the external affairs minister said, "According to World Bank's latest update, India continues to show resilience against the backdrop of a challenging global environment. India's GDP growth forecast for FY 2023-24 is 6.3 per cent...Our total trade with SCO Members has shown massive growth, especially with Russia. It has grown in the last year, with all SCO Members, by 20 per cent...This has the potential to grow manifold."
Earlier after his arrival in Bishkek on Wednesday, Jaishankar had called on the President of Kyrgyzstan Sadyr Zhaparov and discussed ways to boost bilateral cooperation in banking, defence and energy sectors.
Jaishankar is on a two-day visit to Kyrgyzstan to attend the SCO summit.
"Delighted to call on President Sadyr Zhaparov of Kyrgyz Republic. Conveyed the personal greetings of PM @narendramodi. Discussed cooperation in banking, energy, health and pharma, defense, agriculture and investments," he had posted on X after meeting Zhaparov.