NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi heads for Qingdao, a city in eastern Shandong Province on China’s east coast, to attend India’s first Summit as a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) on June 9-10.
India and Pakistan were admitted as full members of the economic and strategic grouping in June 2017. This will be Modi’s second visit to China in just over a month, after his April 28 and 29 “informal” summit in Wuhan.
Modi will hold a bilateral meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping before attending a welcome banquet hosted by Xi. On June 10, he will attend both the restricted and extended discussions, and is also likely to hold brief meetings with heads of some other member states and/or observer nations like Iran, Afghanistan and Mongolia. He will not hold discussions with Pakistan, represented by President Mamnoon Hussain.
Apart from ways to improve economic, political and social connectivity among members and the situation in the region, terrorism and the impact of US sanctions on Iran and Russia are also likely to figure high on the agenda. But despite the SCO’s focus on consensus, India will not endorse China’s Belt and Road Initiative citing territorial and sovereignty issues over the China Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Although India insists that no talks would be held with Pakistan until it ends terrorism, an Indian ‘technical team’ had visited Islamabad recently to discuss terrorism under the SCO’s Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure format. “It is our obligation and our responsibility to participate in multilateral meetings wherever they are held, and that is why we participated in this meeting,” MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar explained.
The summit aims to discuss ways to further deepen four areas: politics, security economic and cultural cooperation. “There is something called the Shanghai Spirit which needs to be strengthened. This involves mutual trust, mutual benefits, equality, mutual consultations, respect of cultural diversity and pursuit of common development,” Kumar said.