Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to meet this week on the sidelines of SCO summit in Astana, amid growing differences between the two countries over a host of issues including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and NSG. Efforts were on through diplomatic channels to arrange a meeting between the two leaders, informed sources told PTI here. The summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) being held on June 8-9 in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, is special for India as it would be formally admitted into the China dominated six-nation grouping along with Pakistan. Till now China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are the group’s full members. Afghanistan, Belarus, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan have observer status. The admission of India and Pakistan will enlarge the group’s footprints for the first time to South Asia from Central Asia.
Chinese officials say that Beijing attaches importance to the Modi-Xi meeting as this would be the first this year and taking place after India boycotted the high-profile Belt and Road Forum held here last month in which 29 world leaders took part. India abstained from the summit to highlight its concerns over the USD 50 billion CPEC which is part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and passes through Gilgit and Baltistan in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). China is vocal about its stand to block India’s admission into the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) besides moves to list JeM leader Masood Azhar as terrorist by the UN. After Astana, Modi and Xi are also expected to cross paths at the G20 summit to be held next month in Hamburg, Germany followed by Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa (BRICS) summit to be held in Xiamen, China in September.
Their Astana meeting would be followed by lengthy process of high level consultative meetings between BRICS countries starting with the foreign ministers this month. Minister of State for External Affairs Gen V K Singh was expected to attend the BRICS Foreign Ministers meeting to be held here on June 18-19. It will also be followed by a meeting of the National Security Advisors on July 27-28 here. National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, who is also India’s Special Representative for the Sino-India border talks, was expected to attend the meeting. This is the first time that the BRICS Foreign Ministers meet is being held far ahead of September summit following suggestion from the host country, China. Finance Minister of the BRICS countries are also due to meet. While the outcome of these meetings cannot be judged, they provide numerous platforms for leaders and officials of India and China to discuss a way out their differences and step up cooperation, officials said.