Tashkent: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has called upon Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) member states to unitedly fight terrorism and eliminate the menace in all its forms.

Addressing the SCO Defence Ministers' meeting at Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on Wednesday, the Union minister asserted that terrorism in any form, including cross-border terrorism, when committed by anyone and for whatever purpose, is a crime against humanity.

"Terrorism is one of the most serious challenges to global peace and security. India reiterates its resolve to fight all forms of terrorism and make the region peaceful, secure and stable. We seek to develop joint institutional capabilities with the SCO member states, which, while respecting the sensitivities of each country, create the spirit of cooperation among individuals, societies and nations," Rajnath Singh said.

In this context, the minister proposed to host a workshop in India in 2023 on the theme 'Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief - Risk mitigation and Disaster Resilient Infrastructure' for the Defence Ministries of SCO Member States. He also suggested an annual seminar on 'Topic of Interest' among the defence think tanks of SCO countries. "We propose to organise the first such defence think tank seminar in India in 2023," he added.

Singh voiced India's full support for a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan while emphasising respect for its sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, national unity and non-interference in internal affairs.

He urged all parties to encourage Afghanistan authorities to achieve national reconciliation through dialogue & negotiation and establish a broad-based, inclusive and representative political structure in the country. He underlined the importance of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions in this regard.

The Union Minister added that the Afghan territory must not be used to intimidate or attack any country by providing safe havens and training to terrorists and supporting their activities through financial assistance. He stressed the need to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan and safeguard their fundamental rights.

Expressing India's concern over the situation in Ukraine, Rajnath Singh stated that New Delhi supports talks between Russia and Ukraine to resolve this crisis.

"India is concerned about the humanitarian crisis in and around Ukraine. We have extended our support for the efforts of the UN Secretary-General, UN agencies and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to provide humanitarian assistance," he added.

Singh also threw light on India's age-old ties with SCO countries, asserting that the Member States of the Organisation are common stakeholders in the progress and prosperity of the region.

"India accords high priority to SCO because of its unwavering belief in multilateralism. There is a need to strengthen ties with SCO member states bilaterally and within the framework of the organisation on the basis of equality, respect and mutual understanding," he said.

Minister Singh invited all SCO Member States to visit India next year when New Delhi takes over the presidency of the Organisation from Uzbekistan.

After his bilateral meetings with his Uzbek, Kazakh and Belarusian counterparts on Tuesday, Rajnath Singh is scheduled to meet the Defence Minister of Kyrgyzstan later on Wednesday. During the exchange of pleasantries with Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu Wednesday morning, Rajnath Singh conveyed his deep appreciation and thanks for arresting in Moscow a terrorist who was planning attacks in India.