3NEW DELHI: The listing of Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar by the UN as a global terrorist is a “solid proof” of the international community’s strong support to India’s fight against terrorism, French Ambassador Alexandre Ziegler said Friday.

He said France has also been hit hard by terrorism and the fight against terror remains high in its national and international agenda.

“The listing of Masood Azhar by the UN Sanctions Committee is a watershed (moment) in our long fight against terrorism. I am very proud that France has played a fundamental role in achieving this diplomatic win,” Ziegler told reporters.

“It’s an important political decision because we have reached a consensus with the members of the Security Council. This is solid proof of the international community’s strong support to India’s fight against terrorism,” he added.

The UN Sanctions Committee on Wednesday designated Azhar as global terrorist after China lifted its hold on a proposal to ban him, nearly a decade after New Delhi first pushed for it.

France, the UK and the US had moved a fresh proposal to declare Azhar as global terrorist by the UN in the wake of the February 14 Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed. The JeM had claimed responsibility for the attack.

The French envoy said it was bit odd that the JeM was banned by the UN after attacks on the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly and the Indian Parliament in 2001, but not its leader.

“At that time, we upheld the legitimacy of India’s demand that its chief be sanctioned. It was rather odd that a terrorist group was sanctioned, but not its leader,” he said.

“All states are bound to freeze his assets and block his access to the financial system; ban him from entering or transiting through their territory; not provide him any arms or military assistance whatsoever, whether directly or indirectly,” the envoy said.

He said it has been French government’s goal since 2001 to list Azhar, adding his listing is a successful realisation of the diplomatic efforts that France has been conducting for last 18 years.

“On the very morrow of the Pulwama attack in February 2019, France spared no effort to get a communiqu from the UNSC condemning the terrorist attack. This was a crucial political step, necessary before any discussion on listing Masood Azhar could take place. And the political consensus of the UNSC was very much appreciated,” Ziegler said.

“This was clearly a key step to engage all the members of the Security Council and, more broadly, the international community,” he added.

At the level of the European Union, France had submitted a proposal for designation along the lines of the sanctions that France had adopted at the national level against Azhar on March 15.

“This independent European designation, which will now be supplanted by the UN’s decision, was in the process of being adopted in the coming days thanks to France’s mobilization of the EU,” he said.

The envoy said the fight against terrorism is one of the pillars of his country’s strategic partnership with India.

“I can tell you that we are moving very closely and very fast with India,” he said, adding fighting terrorism in cyberspace will be one of the priorities of our G7 presidency.

“Today, I would like to confirm that India is officially invited to the August summit in France and for the preparatory meetings,” he said. PTI