India on Sunday kept up its opposition to China’s mega Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), with Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying such connectivity projects must respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity. He was addressing the annual Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit in Qingdao.
India became the only member of the SCO that did not endorse the BRI in the declaration issued after the summit.
“Connectivity with the neighbouring countries is India’s priority. We welcome the connectivity projects which are sustainable and efficient and which respect territorial integrity and sovereignty of the countries,” Modi said.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the heads of state council meeting. He also held bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the summit,” Ruchi Ghanashyam, secretary (West), in the ministry of external affairs, told reporters after two meetings of the summit. “PM Modi’s priority is terror and connectivity,” she said. “PM Narendra Modi also invited Kazakhstan to join the International Solar Alliance and the President of Kazakhstan responded positively,” she added.
Besides a joint communique, 12 others documents were signed between the member countries. In his speech, Modi noted that “Only 6% of foreign tourists in India are from SCO countries; this can easily be doubled. Increasing awareness of our shared cultures can help boost this number. We will organise an SCO food festival and a Buddhist festival in India.”
In his address after the signing ceremony, Chinese President Xi Jinping said, the “Presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain is of great historic significance.” The SCO leaders “had an in-depth exchange of views on major international and regional issues... The members will work together to fight terrorism, extremism and drug trade,” he said.
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s bold initiatives towards peace. He was referring to his surprise announcement of a week-long ceasefire with the Taliban for Id. In response, the Taliban announced the suspension of fighting for the first three days of Id - its first ceasefire since the 2001 US invasion
Modi, Pak Prez shake hands
PM Modi and Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain on Sunday exchanged pleasantries after a press conference by the leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. MEA officials described it as a mere formality
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During their meeting on Saturday, President Xi Jinping suggested to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that both countries set up a new bilateral trade target of $100 billion by 2020, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale informed the media. With China agreeing to import non-Basmati rice and sugar from India, the current trade volume of $84.44 billion could gallop. Gokhale said that India has allowed China’s state-owned Bank of China to open its branch in Mumbai