PM Modi to address plenary session of SCO summit in Dushanbe
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lead the Indian delegation at the 21st meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on Friday and virtually join the summit of heads of state via video link. Minister of external affairs S Jaishankar will on Friday represent India at the SCO summit, which will be held in a hybrid format at the Tajikistan capital of Dushanbe. This is the fourth such summit where India will be participating as a full-fledged member of the SCO, and it assumes a special significance in light of the rapidly evolving situation in the war-torn land of Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover.
The SCO summit will be attended by the leaders of the organisation's member states, observer states, secretary-general of the SCO, executive-director of the SCO regional anti-terrorist structure (RATS), president of Turkmenistan, and other invited guests. Jaishankar is also set to represent India in a meeting on Afghanistan of the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) on the same day.
The joint meetings are expected to provide India with the opportunity to examine closely the situation in Afghanistan, especially in light of concerns about the military establishment in Pakistan and its ties with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
The ANI news agency, citing people familiar with the focus areas of discussion at the SCO summit, reported that India will discuss the current politico-security situation in the region, especially Afghanistan; the fallout of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic; the expansion of membership of the organisation, including discussions on full membership, dialogue partner, and observer status; and multilateral economic cooperation.
India will also discuss counter-terrorism, economic cooperation, people-to-people exchanges, and other topical issues of regional and international importance, the agency added.
Jaishankar said last week that India has always stood with the Afghan people and called for an unfettered flow of humanitarian aid to the war-torn land. India has called for the global community to jointly bring forth a positive and enabling environment in Afghanistan; however, this requires cooperation from foreign nations and there is always the possibility of vested interests.
China's foreign minister Wang Yi, Russia's Sergey Lavrov, Iran's Hossein Amir Abdollahian, and Pakistan's Shah Mahmood Qureshi are expected to attend the SCO meetings in Dushanbe.
Abdollahian, who assumed office in August, was set to travel to India last week but later deferred his visit. However, the newly-appointed Iranian foreign minister might still travel to Delhi soon enough, people familiar with the development said, although fresh dates for his visit are yet to be fixed.
India is in no rush to recognise the new rulers of Afghanistan; it instead attaches supreme importance to the argument that Afghan territory must not be used for terrorism or anti-India activities.