New Delhi, June 8 (IANS) Ahead of his departure for Qingdao, China, on Saturday for this year’s Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit on June 9-10, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday that the meeting will herald a new beginning for India’s engagement with the Eurasian bloc.
Stating that he is excited to lead the Indian delegation for India’s first ever participation in the Summit as a full member, Modi said in a pre-departure statement: “I believe that the Qingdao Summit will further enrich the SCO agenda, while heralding a new beginning for India’s engagement with the SCO.”
This will be the first time India will be participating in the SCO Summit after being granted full membership of the bloc, along with Pakistan, in June last year.
The SCO is a Eurasian inter-governmental organisation, the creation of which was announced in 2001 in Shanghai by Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It was preceded by the Shanghai Five mechanism.
“The SCO has a rich agenda for cooperation, ranging from fighting terrorism, separatism and extremism to promoting cooperation in connectivity, commerce, customs, law, health and agriculture; protecting the environment and mitigating disaster risk; and fostering people-to-people relations,” Modi said.
“In the last one year since India became a full member of the SCO, our interaction with the organisation and its member states has grown considerably in these areas.”
Modi will also hold a bilateral talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Summit.
While the bilateral meeting with Xi will be held on June 9, June 10 is the main day of the SCO Summit in Qingdao in the eastern Chinese province of Shandong.
The bilateral summit between Modi and Xi will be held after the two leaders met for an informal summit on April 27-28 at the invitation of the Chinese leader in Wuhan, China, where they pledged to keep the India-China border quiet and personally guide their respective armies to avert a Doklam-like military stand-off in future.
Modi is also expected to hold bilateral meetings with leaders of other member states of the SCO on the sidelines of the Summit
Stating that India enjoys deep friendship and multi-dimensional ties with the member states of the SCO, he said: “On the sidelines of the SCO Summit, I will have the opportunity of meeting and sharing views with several other leaders, including the heads of states of many SCO member states.”
At a media briefing here on Thursday, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said that connectivity, the fight against terrorism, common development and extending relations with Central Asian countries will be among India’s objectives at the Summit.
SCO countries now account for around 42 per cent of the world’s population, 22 per cent of the land area and 20 per cent of the GDP.