Prime Minister Narendra Modi will participate in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan on September 15 and 16.
Several bilateral meetings are on the agenda, the most significant being Modi's meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin. The 22nd Meeting of the Council of Heads of the SCO will see the participation of heads states of India, China, Russia, Pakistan Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
As world leaders gather at the same forum post-pandemic, here's what to expect:
All eyes will be on Modi and Putin's meeting with the Kremlin confirming that the two leaders will hold bilateral talks on the sidelines of the event. The two leaders are likely to discuss the role of Russia within the UN and G20, as told by Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov. Russian news agency TASS quoted him as saying, "A conversation on international agenda with Modi will also take place, the sides will discuss issues of strategic stability, the situation in the Asia Pacific Region, and, of course, cooperation within major multilateral formats, such as the UN, the G20 and the SCO."
India has taken a stand on the Russian aggression in Ukraine. It has abstained from voting on several occasions such as during the UN Security Council, General Assembly, and Human Rights Council. As war broke out India had only called for an "immediate cessation of violence and hostilities".
Will Modi Meet Xi?
While Modi and China President Xi Jinping have held successful bilateral talks before, this is the first time they will be attending the same event since the hostilities in the border areas. Indian and Chinese security forces have been part of significant skirmishes in border areas between 2020 and 2022 in the Galway Valley, near the Pangong Tso Lake in Ladkah, in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, among other places.
Neither Beijing nor New Delhi has made announcements about a meeting between the two countries. Last week, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said, "I have no information to offer at this moment," when asked about the possibility of a meeting between the two countries.
No Meeting With Pakistan
Pakistan officials have said that Shehbaz Sharif had no plans to meet their Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, at the SCO summit. Foreign Office spokesman Asim Iftikhar told Dawn, "No meeting is envisaged with the Indian prime minister."
New Delhi has also remained silent on the chances of an Indo-Pak bilateral meet.
Xi and Putin are going to meet on the sidelines of the summit to hold bilateral talks. Kremlin has said that the two leaders will likely discuss subjects of regional and international importance. The crisis in Ukraine is on the agenda of discussion. Ushakov was quoted by the Associated Press as saying, "China has taken a well-balanced approach to the Ukrainian crisis, clearly expressing its understanding of the reasons that prompted Russia to launch the special military operation."
Both China and Russia face sanctions from Western forces. While Russia faces US sanctions over its attack on Ukraine, China-US ties have been soured over the US stand on Taiwan.
What is the SCO?
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is an inter-governmental organisation of Asian and Central European countries. It was formed in 2001 with eight member states China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
The organisation was known as the Shanghai Five and was formed in 1996 with China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan as members. The name was changed to SCO when Uzbekistan joined in 2001. India and Pakistan were admitted to the SCO in 2017.
Reports suggest that Iran has signed a memorandum to join the SCO on Thursday.
Regional development, fighting extremism and regional cooperation were some of the important aspects of the SCO's agenda. According to the UN, "Since its inception in 2001, the SCO has mainly focused on regional security issues, its fight against regional terrorism, ethnic separatism and religious extremism. To date, the SCO's priorities also include regional development."
The SCO is also an observer in the UN General Assembly since 2005.
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