Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached Qingdao, China, on Saturday morning to participate in the 2018 Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit. Besides the Summit, a major highlight will be Modi’s bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines.
This is the first time that India is participating in the Summit after becoming a full member.
“An early morning start! PM @narendramodi heads to #Qingdao, China for the annual meeting of the Council of Heads of States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on 9-10 June. This is India’s first participation as a full member of the Council. #IndiainSCO,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted as the PM departed.
“With 8 members, SCO represents approximately 42 percent of the world’s population, 22 percent of the land area and 20 percent of the GDP. #SCO focusses on political, economic, security and cultural cooperation & enables India to engage with Central Asian countries,” he added.
A day before his departure, the PM had said that he will be “interacting with leaders of SCO nations and discussing a wide range of subjects with them” during his two-day visit which ends on 10 June.
“I am excited to lead the Indian delegation for our first-ever meeting of the Council as a full member,” the PM said in a statement.
He praised the SCO for the bloc’s “rich agenda for cooperation, ranging from fighting terrorism, separatism and extremism to promoting cooperation in connectivity, commerce, customs, law, health and agriculture; protecting the environment and mitigating disaster risk; and fostering people-to-people relations”.
“In the last one year since India became a full member of the SCO, our interaction with the Organization and its member States has grown considerably in these areas. I believe that the Qingdao Summit will further enrich the SCO agenda, while heralding a new beginning for India’s engagement with the SCO,” the statement read.
The PM said that India enjoys deep friendship and multi-dimensional ties with the Member States of the SCO.
India was granted membership of the bloc in June 2017 along with Pakistan.
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.
PM Modi is scheduled to hold the bilateral meeting with Xi on Saturday itself. The meeting comes over a month after their informal summit on 27-28 April in Wuhan that had led to a thaw in the ties which had turned frosty following the Doklam crisis.
The two leaders had pledged to keep the India-China border peaceful and personally guide their respective armies to avert a Doklam-like military stand-off in future.