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Multiple Diplomatic Navigation on the Cards as PM Modi Reaches Kyrgyzstan for SCO Summit

Before leaving for Bishkek, Modi said that India attached special importance to the SCO in promoting multi-lateral, political, security, economic and people-to-people interaction with the region.

Aishwarya Kumar | News18.com@aishwaryak03

Updated:June 13, 2019, 2:18 PM IST
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Multiple Diplomatic Navigation on the Cards as PM Modi Reaches Kyrgyzstan for SCO Summit
PM Modi arrived in Kyrgyzstan on Thursday

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set for the 19th Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit on Thursday with multiple bilateral talks planned on the sidelines of the meeting. Modi has a packed first day in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, with meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Before leaving for Bishkek, Modi said that India attached special importance to the SCO in promoting multi-lateral, political, security, economic and people-to-people interaction with the region. “India has actively participated in various SCO dialogue mechanisms since its full membership of SCO two years ago,” he further said.

Bilateral With China

Other than it being the first meeting between Xi and Modi this year, it is also the first meeting between the two leaders after China lifted the blockade on the listing of Masood Azhar by the United Nations earlier this year.

Interestingly, Xi will also be coming to India for an informal summit later this year. The two leaders met four times last year. After the Wuhan Summit, foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale had said that terrorism was discussed on a “general level” and that there was “continuing discussion between both countries on how to collaborate in this area.”

Since the 2017 Doklam standoff, there have been consistent efforts to strengthen bilateral ties. This is also the first time that Modi and Xi will be meeting after former ambassador to China S Jaishankar took charge as the Minister of External Affairs. Last year, India had refused to endorse Xi’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) at the SCO Summit in Qingdao with Modi, in his address, that any mega connectivity project must respect the sovereignty of the countries.

Bilateral With Russia

Modi will be meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Bishkek. The meeting is significant as it comes in the backdrop of the S-400 contract being on precarious grounds as the US mounts pressure to act against the deal under CAATSA. Putin has also invited Modi to be the chief guest at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok later this year, something that might be reiterated in the Bishkek meeting.

Bilateral With Iran

Modi’s meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will be the first one after the US sanctions on oil imports from Iran. During the elections, former Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj had said that India would take a decision on oil imports when the elections get over.

While a decision on how to find a way round the sanctions is unlikely, both leaders will be putting forth their respective views on the same. India has committed millions of dollars in building the port that connects India and Afghanistan.

The port is considered an important gateway for India into Central Asia and also something that will be looked into before India decides what to do about the sanctions in place by the US. The port holds more significance than ever considering China’s investment into the Gwadar port in Pakistan.

Bilateral With Afghanistan

Modi will be meeting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani along the sidelines of the Summit. The meeting comes at an interesting time as Taliban engages in peace talks with the United States. India has so far not said anything concrete with regards to engagement with the Taliban.

It was, however, participated in a meeting hosted by Russia on Afghanistan at a “non-official level” in Moscow where representatives of the Taliban were also present. India has several development projects in the country and has been steadfast in its support for protecting the development progress there.

Bilateral With Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan President Sooronbay Jeenbekov was invited for Modi’s oath taking ceremony last month. This will be Modi’s second visit to the country since 2015. While India looks to strengthen ties with the country and substantiate the importance it attaches to the region, the two leaders are expected to also discuss the difficulties being faced by Indian students in the country after Pakistan shut down its airspace. The Cabinet, on Wednesday, had approved the proposal for a MoU between the countries for cooperation in the health sector.

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