The much awaited Russia-India-China (RIC) trilateral took place here Monday with the three countries condemning terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and calling upon States to take adequate measures to prevent terrorist activities from their territory. While the three countries agreed to strengthen cooperation to take “decisive and concerted actions” against globally proscribed terrorists and terror entities, including those listed by UNSC, missing from the joint communique was a direct mention of Pakistan based terror groups like LeT and JeM.
Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj did say in her media statement though that she put across India’s view that significant rise in acts of terrorism by terrorist organizations like “Taliban, Daesh (ISIS), Al-Qaeda, and LeT” directly undermined international peace and security and endangered ongoing efforts to strengthen the global economy.
Swaraj made the remark in her joint media statement after the RIC trilateral with her Russian and Chinese counterparts Sergey Lavrov and Wang Yi respectively. This was the first visit to India by Wang after the Sino-Indian Doklam standoff.
The joint communique did mention the names of al-Qaida and ISIL. To be sure, the last RIC communique, in April 2016, too didn’t name any Pakistan-based terror group but the latest meeting came against the backdrop of friction between India and China over naming of groups like LeT and JeM in multilateral declarations. For India, one of the biggest takeaways from the Xiamen Brics summit this year was the specific mention of the same groups in the Brics Declaration which was achieved with help from Russia. In the previous Brics summit, which was in Goa, Beijing had successfully blocked attempts by India to include the names of LeT and JeM in the declaration.
As Swaraj said, one of the focus areas in the trilateral was terrorism. India’s main grouse with China on terrorism has been the fact that China continues to block a UN ban on the activities of Pakistan based terrorist Masood Azhar, the head of JeM which is proscribed by the UN. While sources here said that Swaraj also had a “very good” meeting with Wang in which they showed signs of having moved on from Doklam on the border issue, it wasn’t immediately clear if she raised Azhar with him.
The RIC communique stressed that those committing, organizing, inciting or supporting terrorist acts must be held accountable and brought to justice in accordance with the obligations under international law including the principle of, as it said, extradite or prosecute as well as the applicable domestic legislations. The three countries called for cooperation to prevent and counter terrorism and radicalization, combat the spread of terrorist ideology and propaganda, stop sources of terrorist financing, prevent travelling of and the supply of arms to terrorists, and to dismantle terrorist infrastructure.
“We call for swift and effective implementation of existing international commitments on countering terrorism, including the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, relevant UN Security Council resolutions and targeted sanctions relating to terrorism and the FATF International Standards worldwide,” said the communique.