Connectivity, fighting terrorism among India’s objectives in SCO Summit

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New Delhi, June 7 (IANS) Connectivity and the fight against terrorism will be among India’s objectives when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits China to attend the 18th meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) on June 9-10 on the sidelines of which he will also hold a bilateral summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, a senior official said on Thursday.

Briefing the media here, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said that while the bilateral meeting with Xi will be held on June 9, June 10 is the main day of the SCO Summit being held in the city of Qingdao in the eastern Chinese province of Shandong.

The bilateral summit between Modi and Xi will be held after the two leaders met for an informal summit on April 27-28 at the invitation of the Chinese leader in Wuhan, China, where they pledged to keep the India-China border quiet and personally guide their respective armies to avert a Doklam-like military stand-off in future.

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This will be the first time India will be participating in the SCO Summit after being granted full membership of the bloc, along with Pakistan, in June last year.

The SCO is a Eurasian inter-governmental organisation, the creation of which was announced in 2001 in Shanghai by Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It was preceded by the Shanghai Five mechanism.

Kumar said that India has participated in all SCO dialogue mechanisms after becoming a full member of the organisation.

Giving details, he said that the objective of the Qingdao Summit is to further deepen the existing relationship between the SCO member countries.

“They have identified four areas – politics, security, economic and cultural cooperation,” the spokesperson said.

“There is something called the Shanghai Spirit which needs to be strengthened, which talks about mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, mutual consultations, and respect for cultural diversity and pursuit of common development.”

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As far as India’s objectives are concerned that, Kumar said that the fight against terrorism and connectivity issues will be the priorities.

“It is important for us to ensure peace and security in the SCO region and the fight against the growing threat of terrorism,” he said.

The idea, he said, is to see how to use the SCO platform in the fight against the global scourge of terrorism.

“We are also focused on the connectivity aspect of it,” Kumar said.

India is involved in several connectivity projects in the region like the International North South Transport Corridor, the Chabahar port being developed in Iran for which New Delhi, Tehran and Kabul are signatories, the Askabad Agreement, a multimodal transport agreement between India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Oman, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, the India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway project under New Delhi’s Act East Policy, and the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal Motor Vehicles Agreement.

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Other objectives of India in the Summit are common development and extending relations with Central Asian countries.

SCO countries now account for around 42 per cent of the world’s population, 22 per cent of the land area and 20 per cent of the GDP.

–IANS

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