Samarkand: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday will attend the first in-person summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in two years in the historic Uzbek city here which will deliberate on major regional security challenges and issues like trade, investment and energy supplies.
Modi arrived in Samarkand on Thursday night to attend the summit of the eight-member SCO grouping which will also see the participation of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Iran’s Ebrahim Raisi, Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and other leaders from the Central Asian countries.
The SCO summit in Samarkand will have two sessions — one restricted session which is only meant for the SCO member states and then there will be an extended session that is likely to see the participation of the observers and the special invitees of the chair country.
The SCO is holding its first in-person summit in Samarkand in Uzbekistan after two years since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic which prevented such high-level gatherings.
Modi is also expected to hold bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the summit, including with Putin, and Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Iranian President Raisi.
“At the SCO Summit, I look forward to exchanging views on topical, regional and international issues, the expansion of SCO and further deepening of multifaceted and mutually beneficial cooperation within the Organisation,” Modi said in a pre-departure statement.
“Under the Uzbek chairship, a number of decisions for mutual cooperation are likely to be adopted in areas of trade, economy, culture and tourism,” he said.
Modi said he was also looking forward to meeting Uzbek President Mirziyoyev.
“I fondly recall his visit to India in 2018. He also graced the Vibrant Gujarat Summit as Guest of Honour in 2019. In addition, I will hold bilateral meetings with some of the other leaders attending the summit,” Modi said.
There is no confirmation over his possible bilateral with Chinese President Xi and Pakistan Prime Minister Sharif, amidst a chill in the bilateral ties with both countries.
“We will keep you fully apprised when the Prime Minister’s schedule of bilateral meetings unfolds,” Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra told reporters in New Delhi on Thursday when asked if Modi and Xi will have a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the summit.
Kwatra also said the Prime Minister’s participation in the summit was a reflection of the importance that India attaches to the SCO and its goals.
The summit of the eight-nation influential grouping is taking place amid the growing geo-political turmoil largely triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and China’s aggressive military posturing in the Taiwan Strait.
Launched in Shanghai in June 2001, the SCO has eight full members, including its six founding members, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India and Pakistan joined as full members in 2017. (PTI)