PM Modi to attend SCO summit in Uzbekistan on Sept 15, 16
The prime minister is expected to hold bilateral meetings with Russian president Vladimir Putin, Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi and Uzbek president Shavkat Mirziyoyev Mirziyoyev.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Uzbekistan during September 15-16 to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit, which is set to bring him face-to-face with Chinese president Xi Jinping for the first time since the start of the border standoff in Ladakh.
Modi, who is travelling to Samarkand for the SCO meet at the invitation of Uzbek president Shavkat Mirziyoyev, is likely to hold “a few bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the summit”, the external affairs ministry said on Sunday, without giving further details.
People familiar with the planning for the visit said the prime minister is expected to hold bilateral meetings with Russian president Vladimir Putin, Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi and Mirziyoyev on the margins of the summit.
There has been considerable speculation about the possibility of a meeting in Samarkand between Modi and Xi, especially after India and China on Thursday announced the withdrawal of their troops from patrolling point-15 or PP-15 at Hot Springs, one of the friction points in their standoff in Ladakh sector of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The withdrawal of troops at PP-15 began on Thursday and is set to be completed by September 12.
However, both sides have not officially said anything about a possible meeting between Modi and Xi. There has also been no official word on a meeting between Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Shehbaz Sharif.
The Russian side has confirmed that Putin will hold a bilateral meeting with Xi in Samarkand.
The last time Modi and Xi were in the same room in-person was at the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (Brics) Summit in Brasilia in November 2019. The two leaders had also held a bilateral meeting at that time.
The military standoff has taken India-China ties to an all-time low, though the two leaders have joined several virtual meetings since it began in May 2020.
The Indian side has linked the normalisation of overall relations with China to the restoration of peace and tranquillity in the border areas. China on the other hand, has called for putting the border standoff in its “appropriate place” while taking forward ties in other areas.
India is set to take over the rotational presidency of the SCO, which also includes China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, for the next year. Iran currently has observer status but the process has begun for its inclusion as a full member.
Since the start of the India-China standoff, Russia facilitated meetings between the defence and foreign ministers of the two countries when Moscow held the presidency of the SCO in 2020. However, these meetings did not lead to any immediate breakthrough.
Besides regional issues such as connectivity, trade and the situation in Afghanistan, the SCO Summit is also expected to discuss the Ukraine crisis and its fallout on the global economy.
The SCO Summit will be attended by leaders of the member states and observer states, the SCO secretary general, the executive director of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS), the president of Turkmenistan and other guests.
“During the summit, the leaders are expected to review the organisation’s activities over the past two decades and discuss the state and prospects of multilateral cooperation in the future,” the external affairs ministry said.