Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday arrived at the Palam Air Force Station in the national capital after participating in the two-day annual Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in China’s Qingdao city. During his visit to Qingdao, Prime Minister Modi held a series of bilateral meetings with leaders of other SCO countries. Other leaders who attended the summit were – Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain. Earlier in the day, the SCO leaders inked a number of agreements during the signing-in ceremony at the summit.
Addressing the plenary session of the 18th SCO summit in Qingdao, Prime Minister Modi emphasised on connectivity in the neighbourhood and in the Eurasian region and said the same is a priority for India. The Prime Minister also focussed on tourism and said India is taking steps to boost the number of tourists from SCO nations visiting the country. Prime Minister Modi also touched upon the terrorism issue and remarked that “Afghanistan is an unfortunate example” of the same. “I hope the brave steps towards peace taken by President Ghani will be respected by all in the region,” he said. The SCO leaders signed the Qingdao Declaration and agreements on security, economic cooperation and people-to-people exchanges during the ceremony, which was held at Qingdao International Convention Centre on the final day of the 18th SCO summit.
Prime Minister Modi and Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain were seen shaking hands after signing of the agreements at the summit, although no separate bilateral meeting was held. Prior to the plenary session, a restricted session took place which was attended only by the SCO members. Prime Minister Modi on Saturday witnessed a special event by Chinese artists at the International Conference Centre in Qingdao on the sidelines of the annual two-day SCO summit. A team of dancers, supported by local songs and a laser show, performed at the centre. With help of massive glass structures, the reflection of the dancers filled the entire venue. Prime Minister Modi, along with other SCO leaders, then attended a banquet hosted by President Xi.
This is the first SCO summit wherein both India and Pakistan are attending as full-time members. India and Pakistan became full members of the organisation at Astana summit in Kazakhstan in June last year. The final day of the two-day annual summit commenced with a welcome ceremony and a group photo of leaders of the eight SCO member-states. The SCO was founded in Shanghai 17 years ago and it now accounts for nearly half of the world’s population and over 20 percent of global GDP. It is by far the largest regional organisation in the world.