India urges Shanghai Cooperation group to fight terrorism

NEW DELHI (AP) — Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh urged the members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization on Friday to work together to eliminate terrorism and ensure accountability for those who aid or fund such activities, his ministry said.

"Any kind of terrorist act or support for it in any form is a major crime against humanity,” the Defense Ministry quoted Singh as saying at a one-day meeting of SCO defense ministers in New Delhi.

The SCO was founded in 2001 by China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It was later expanded to include India and Pakistan.

India accuses longtime rival Pakistan of arming and training insurgent groups fighting for the independence of Indian-controlled Kashmir or its integration into Pakistan, a charge Islamabad denies. In Afghanistan, the Taliban's imposition of new measures such as restrictions on women is a concern for SCO member states.

The grouping identifies security, trade, investment, environmental protection, information technology and tourism in the region as key areas of cooperation.

Singh met with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on the sidelines of the meeting and discussed military-to-military ties as well as industrial partnerships.

India's Defense Ministry said they discussed the Russian defense industry’s participation in the Indian government's “Make in India” initiative to increase domestic production.

India is dependent on Russia for up to 60% of its arms purchases and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is trying to set up joint ventures to develop the domestic industry.

The two ministers also discussed regional peace and security and reiterated their commitment to strengthen the partnership between the two nations, particularly in defense, the ministry said.