Modi set to meet Xi at SCO on Saturday

By Gaurav Sharma

Beijing, June 8 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to visit China on Saturday to attend a two-day Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in the coastal city of Qingdao where he will have a one-on-one with President Xi Jinping.

Although both have met over a dozen times as leaders of their countries, the Saturday meeting in Qingdao comes just a little over two months after the “ice-breaking” informal summit in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

India and Pakistan last year were formally inducted into the eight-member security bloc whose other member nations are China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

After a year of turbulence marked by over a two-month military stand-off near their border, Sino-India ties have seemingly improved in 2018.

“This is an important meet, but more symbolic in nature. It is nothing compared to Wuhan. The meeting in Qingdao will be formal, unlike in Wuhan,” Hu Shisheng, Director of the Institute of South and Southeast Asian and Oceanian Studies at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR) told IANS.

Modi will hold the bilateral meet with Xi on Saturday. He might also meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, with whom he had an informal meet in Sochi last month.

The SCO summit will discuss the regional security and issue of terrorism, with Modi likely to rake up terror emanating from Pakistan.

Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain will attend the summit.

One of the key highlights of the summit will be Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s presence. He was invited by China to attend the forum.

This assumes significance as the US has junked the Iran-nuclear deal, which China has vowed to salvage.

Iran along with Mongolia, Afghanistan and Belarus have observer status at the summit.

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