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PM Modi Heads to India's First Summit as Full SCO Member, to Hold Sidebar With Xi Jinping

Among other issues, the summit is expected to focus on opportunities for cooperation among SCO members and the situation in the region.


Updated:June 9, 2018, 11:16 AM IST
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New Delhi: India will pitch for evolving effective ways to deal with the growing challenge of terrorism and enhancing security cooperation among SCO countries when Prime Minister Narendra Modi participates in the grouping's summit in Qingdao on Saturday.

The prime minister will be participating in the 18th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit, being held under the chairmanship of Chinese President Xi Jinping, on June 9 and 10 in Qingdao, Shandong province, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.

Among other issues, the summit is expected to focus on opportunities for cooperation among SCO members and the situation in the region, he told reporters at a briefing here.

India and Pakistan became SCO members last year, and are participating as full members for the first time.

Talking about the objective of the summit, Kumar said it was to further deepen the existing relationship between the SCO member countries.

"They have identified four areas — politics, security, economic and cultural cooperation. There is something called Shanghai spirit which needs to be strengthened, which talks about mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, mutual consultations, respect for cultural diversity and pursuit of common development," he said, elaborating on the areas the member nations were likely to focus during the summit.

He said a discussion on regional and international issues was also expected when the leaders meet for the summit.

Kumar said there were multiple objectives of India's participation such as "common development, connectivity, strengthening relationship with Central Asian countries, and terrorism -- how do we use this platform to fight terrorism and the scourge of terrorism in today's world".

"It is important for us to ensure peace and security in the SCO region and fight against the growing threat of terrorism," he said.

India is also focussed on the connectivity aspect of it and this was evident with its involvement with several connectivity projects such as the International NorthSouth Transport Corridor (INSTC), the Chabahar port development, the Ashgabat agreement, IndiaMyanmarThailand Trilateral Highway projects and Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) Initiative among many others, Kumar said.

Asked about India's participation at a recent SCO meeting in Pakistan, Kumar said the participation in that country was under the Regional Anti-terrorist Structure (RATS) of the SCO.

"We had sent a technical team to participate in that meeting. It is our obligation and our responsibility to participate in multilateral meetings wherever it is held and that is how we participated in this SCO RATS meeting in Pakistan," he said.

The prime minister's programme includes participation in the welcome banquet hosted by the Chinese president on the evening of June 9. The main day of the SCO summit is June 10, he said.

PM Modi will attend the SCO heads of state meeting in both the restricted as well as the extended formats, Kumar said, adding that bilateral meetings of the prime minister were also planned on the sidelines of the summit.

A bilateral meeting with President Xi would take place on June 9, while other meetings were being finalised, he said.

A declaration is to be adopted at the summit. Other documents were to be finalised in this regard, he said.

Asked if the SCO Summit could replace the SAARC in the long run, Kumar answered in the negative.

Sources had earlier indicated that India's focus would be to include its concerns over cross border terrorism in the final outcome document but it may be resisted by Pakistan which will try to garner support of other countries.

India has been raising the issue of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in various multilateral forums with an aim to build pressure on Islamabad to dismantle the terror infrastructure operating from that country.

"Cooperation to combat terrorism, extremism and separatism, apart from strengthening trade ties will be among the agreements likely to be inked during the summit of the eight-member grouping at Qingdao," SCO Secretary General Rashid Alimov had earlier said.

The SCO was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the presidents of Russia, China, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India and Pakistan became its members last year.

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| Edited by: Huma Tabassum
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