Prime Minister at SCO summit, Xi and Putin at the talks table

Narendra Modi was in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, for the annual Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit Thursday night, amidst turbulence in the world over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s aggression over Taiwan.

While other SCO leaders were eating dinner hosted by Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, whose country is currently the SCO chair, the Prime Minister’s plane landed. Uzbekistan Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov met Modi at the airport in Samarkand.

Before leaving New Delhi, Modi announced that he would attend the summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Friday. My expectation is that at the SCO Summit we will be able to exchange perspectives on important regional, international, and topical issues, expand the Organization, and deepen multifaceted and mutually beneficial cooperation within the Organization.

It’s expected that a lot of decisions will be made for mutual cooperation under the Uzbek chairship.

SCO leaders are meeting in person for the first time since Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, in June.

About 30 documents have been agreed on to strengthen multifaceted interaction between SCO member states.

Samarkand Declaration will be the main final document of the summit, which outlines priorities for the development of the organisation and reflects common approaches among countries in the SCO.

Among the other key summit documents were: a comprehensive plan to implement the Treaty on Long-term Good Neighborliness, Friendship, and Cooperation; a concept of cooperation to develop interconnectivity and create efficient transport corridors; a program to stimulate industrial cooperation, and regulations regarding the honorary title of SCO Goodwill Ambassador.

According to the Prime Minister, who will meet with President Mirziyoyev, “I recall with fondness his visit to India in 2018. Also in 2019, he served as Guest of Honor at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit. I will also hold bilateral meetings with some of the other summit participants.”

There’s a possibility of meeting with President Xi Friday in the conference room and leaders’ lounge. It’s important after Indian and Chinese troops disengaged at Patrolling Point 15 in Gogra-Hot Springs, eastern Ladakh.

Putin, Raisi, and Mirziyoyev are scheduled to meet with Modi on the summit sidelines Friday afternoon.

A media briefing on Thursday showed the importance India attaches to the SCO and the goals of the summit, according to Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra.

The summit is expected to address topical regional and international issues, the reform and expansion of the SCO, the security situation in the region, and our cooperation perspectives in the region, including strengthening connectivity as well as boosting trade and tourism in the region, he stated.

Kwatra responded to a question regarding China’s growing influence over the SCO by stating that India remained committed to strengthening its relationships with Central Asia and the wider region.

We believe that it is not central to any one country, but rather to the region as a whole. Various countries have different perspectives on cooperation with Central Asian countries.

Two sessions will be held at the summit, one restricted to SCO members and one extended to observers and special invitees of the chair nation.

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