PM Narendra Modi to leave for Tashkent tomorrow to attend SCO summit

By: | Published: June 22, 2016 11:14 PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will leave for Tashkent tomorrow to attend the annual summit of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) which will kick off the process of India's accession to the grouping as a full fledged member along with Pakistan.

The Prime Minister will have a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping tomorrow on the sidelines of the summit during which he is expected to seek China's support for India's bid for NSG membership, which Beijing is opposed to. (Reuters)The Prime Minister will have a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping tomorrow on the sidelines of the summit during which he is expected to seek China?s support for India?s bid for NSG membership, which Beijing is opposed to. (Reuters)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will leave for Tashkent tomorrow to attend the annual summit of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) which will kick off the process of India’s accession to the grouping as a full fledged member along with Pakistan.

The Prime Minister will have a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping tomorrow on the sidelines of the summit during which he is expected to seek China’s support for India’s bid for NSG membership, which Beijing is opposed to.

The two-day annual plenary session of the Nuclear Suppliers Group will begin in Seoul tomorrow during which India’s application for membership of the elite nuclear trading club may come up for deliberation.

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Asked at the media briefing whether the PM will discuss the NSG issue with Xi, Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs Sujata Mehta refused to give a direct answer but said usually a “full review” of the bilateral ties takes place on such occasions.

On India’s SCO membership, Mehta said, “The process of India’s accession to the SCO will start with a signature on the base document which is called the Memorandum of Obligations.”

Asked whether India will become a full member of the SCO, she said there was a schedule laid down for India to sign more than 30 other documents and it will happen as the year goes by.

The Prime Minister will also have bilateral meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov.

On whether Modi will have a meeting with Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain, she said India does not even officially know who will represent Pakistan at the summit. At the same time, she said the Prime Minister will have couple of other bilaterals.

Asked about Pakistan also getting membership of SCO, Mehta said India’s membership of the SCO or any other bloc is not “predicated” by absense of any country.

She said India follows “flexible multilateralism” and it is quite happy to get involved in multiple processes in extending cooperation.

Mehta said the membership will provide India an opportunity to have extended cooperation with members of the grouping including China and Pakistan.

Mehta said 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.

Asked whether SCO membership will help India get a transit route for sending goods to Central Asia and Afghanistan through Pakistan, she said the issue has been taken up at the bilateral level. At the same time, she added overall there will be “net gain to what we have already.”

With majority of the SCO countries having huge reserves of oil and gas, India is expected to get greater access to major hydrocarbon projects in Central Asia after its entry into the bloc. Mehta said there is a talk of an SCO energy club and India aims to benefit from it.

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.

On the NSG plenary meet in Seoul and whether India’s membership bid may somehow figure in the SCO summit, Mehta said it was just a coincidence that both the meetings are taking place at the same time.

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