India is set to become a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) along with Pakistan when the China-dominated security grouping meets for its summit in Uzbekistan capital Tashkent on June 23-24 which will be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The SCO is increasingly seen as a counterweight to NATO and its membership will help India have a greater say in issues relating to security and defence besides combating terrorism.
India, one of the largest energy consuming countries in the world, is expected to get greater access to major gas and oil exploration projects in Central Asia once it becomes a member of the SCO.
Prime Minister Modi is likely to have a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on June 23 on the sidelines of the SCO summit during which he is expected to seek China’s support for India’s bid for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which Beijing is keen on blocking.
The annual plenary session of the NSG will be held in South Korea capital Seoul on June 23 and 24 during which India’s application for membership may come up for deliberation.
The SCO had set the ball rolling to make India a member of the bloc during its summit in Ufa in July last year when administrative hurdles were cleared to grant membership to India, Pakistan and Iran.
India will complete the process of full membership of the SCO at the summit, sources said.
SCO was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the Presidents of Russia, China, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
India, Iran and Pakistan were admitted as observers at the 2005 Astana Summit. The Tashkent SCO Summit in June 2010 had lifted the moratorium on new membership, paving the way for expansion of the grouping.
India feels as SCO member, it will be able to play a major role in addressing the threat of terrorism in the region.
India is also keen on deepening its security-related cooperation with the SCO and its Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS) which specifically deals with issues relating to security and defence.
India has been an observer at the SCO since 2005 and has generally participated in the ministerial-level meetings of the grouping which focus mainly on security and economic cooperation in the Eurasian region.
Russia has been favoring permanent SCO membership for India while China pushed for induction of Pakistan.