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SOURCE: ANI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is set to attend the 22nd Summit of the Council of Heads of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Member States (SCO-CoHS) on Thursday in Samarkand in Uzbekistan, will be holding bilateral meetings with other member leaders on the sidelines of the summit, said the Ministry of External Affairs.

In a special briefing, Foreign Secretary, Vinay Kwatra said, “Besides his bilateral with the host country, PM will have bilateral with other leaders. Will keep you apprised.PM’s participation in the Summit is a reflection of the importance that India attaches to the SCO & its cause” when asked about his bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

PM Modi will attend the summit on Friday. He is expected to have bilateral meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iranian President, Ebrahim Raisi and Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev on the sidelines of the SCO summit in Samarkand.

PM Modi and the Russian President will discuss Russian-Indian cooperation within the UN and G20 during the SCO summit.

“At the invitation of Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, PM Modi will be leaving later this evening for a 24-hour visit to Samarkand to participate in the 22nd Meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). PM will attend the Summit tomorrow morning. The Summit usually has 2 sessions – a restricted session, only for the SCO member states, and then an extended session likely includes participation by observers and special invitees. Prime Minister is there for the SCO Summit for a brief period; he reaches there later tonight, and attends the restricted & extended sessions & a couple of other engagements tomorrow, along with a set of bilateral meetings. He’s then scheduled to return tomorrow night,” said Foreign Secretary.

Kwatra said that the security situation in the region, expansion of the grouping, trade, and connectivity will be the focus of the SCO Samarkand Summit.

“We expect that the discussions during the summit would cover topical, regional and international issues, reform and expansion of SCO, the security situation in the region, cooperation perspective in the region, including strengthening connectivity, as well as boosting trade and tourism in the region. Samarkand Declaration and numerous other documents are expected to be finalized during the summit. They are currently under consideration,” said Kwatra.

The heads of the two permanent bodies of SCO, the Secretary-General of the SCO Secretariat and the Director of SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) will also be present in both sessions.

“The regional anti-terrorist structure – RATS is another important mechanism of the organization. India assumed the chairship of the Executive Council of RATS in October last year for a year and has been focussing on promoting practical cooperation in combatting the problem of terrorism in the region,” said Kwatra.

Leaders of SCO Member States, Observer States, Secretary General of the SCO, Executive Director of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS), President of Turkmenistan and other invited guests would attend the meeting.

The Foreign Secretary also answered India’s stance on price capping on Russian oil, he said, “On the price cap coalition, what form it takes, what shape it evolves into something which the countries that floated the idea perhaps can better answer to that.”

“India is not a member of G7. Deeper discount, market pricing. We have said several times, that when Indian entities go out. They procure from the market and they are not government-to-government purchases”, he added.

When asked about boat rides with other leaders, Kwatra said that PM Modi would be there (Samarkand) for a very brief period.

Speaking on the issue of terrorism, Kwatra said, “Here are multiple ways to look at how different countries assess and look at the challenge of terrorism. irrespective of what a particular country does, there is deep appreciation within the SCO.”

He refused to comment on the issue of disengagement talks with China, saying that External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had already commented on it yesterday.

PM Modi has been leading the Indian delegation to the SCO Summit every year since India became its full member in 2017. During the last two summits in 2020 and 2021, Prime Minister participated in the virtual format.

“In Samarkand, we expect full-physical format participation by all the leaders. Since, joining SCO as a full member, India has been making positive contributions to the SCO’s processes, deliberations and its outcomes,” said Kwatra.

After the Council of Head of States, the Council of Heads of Governments is the second most important mechanism of the SCO which deals principally with the trade, economy and cultural agenda of all the organization. India chaired this mechanism in 2020.

“During our chairmanship, a number of initiatives were taken, including holding an exhibition of shared Buddhist heritage in SCO member states in virtual format by the National Museum, translation of 10 books of regional Indian literature into the official languages of the SCO – Russian and Chinese; and hosting the first SCO Start-up Forum, the first SCO MSME Forum and the first SCO Young Scientist Conclave in virtual format,” said Kwatra.

The 22nd Summit of the Council of Heads of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Member States (SCO-CoHS) is set to commence on Thursday in Samarkand in Uzbekistan after two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The summit would be the first in-person SCO-CoHS Summit, after the last one held in June 2019 in Bishkek, before the Covid pandemic hit the world as the subsequent two summits under the chairmanship of Russia and Tajikistan were held in virtual format.

The SCO currently comprises eight Member States (China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan), four Observer States interested in acceding to full membership (Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia) and six “Dialogue Partners” (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey).

SCO has potential in various new sectors, wherein all the member-states could find converging interests. India has already pushed hard for cooperation in Startups and Innovation, Science and Technology and Traditional Medicine.

India, from the time of its full membership, made sincere efforts to encourage peace, prosperity, and stability of the whole Eurasian region in general and SCO member countries in particular.