SCO Summit: Modi, Xi to come face-to-face for first time since LAC clashes
The summit in the historic city is also being attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Samarkand that will bring him face-to-face with Chinese President Xi Jinping for the first time since the start of the military standoff in Ladakh in 2020.
The summit in the historic city is also being attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. The leaders began gathering in Samarkand on Thursday morning though Modi and his delegation arrived in a special flight late in the evening, after an informal dinner and other ceremonial events were over.
The Chinese president was not seen in images of the dinner and other ceremonial gatherings on Thursday as he apparently skipped these events.
Following the summit, Modi is set to hold separate bilateral meetings with Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Putin and Raisi. There was no official word from China or India on a possible meeting between Modi and Xi, who have only joined several virtual meetings of multilateral bodies during the pandemic.
Energy and food security in the aftermath of the Ukraine crisis, trade, connectivity, expansion and reform of the SCO, counter-terrorism cooperation and international and regional issues such as the situation in Afghanistan are expected to figure in the discussions at the summit. Iran is set to become the first full member of the SCO since 2017, when India and Pakistan joined the grouping.
Ahead of his departure from New Delhi on Thursday, Modi said in a statement that he would discuss topical regional and global issues, the expansion of the SCO and deepening of mutually beneficial cooperation within the grouping at the summit. He added that a number of decisions for cooperation in trade, economy, culture and tourism are likely to be adopted by the meeting.
Before the start of the summit, the leaders of the SCO member states – India, China, Russia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – will participate in a group photo opportunity. This will be followed by the two sessions of the summit – a restricted gathering of heads of SCO member states, and an extended session with the participation of countries that have observer status with SCO or are special invitees of Uzbekistan, the host of the event.
The Samarkand Declaration, listing the deliberations and outcomes of the summit, will be signed and there will be an official banquet hosted by the Uzbek president.
Modi will then hold the first of his bilateral meetings with Putin, and this will be followed by the meetings with Mirziyoyev and Raisi.
The Russian side has said issues such as trade, sale of Russian fertilisers, bilateral food supplies and cooperation at multilateral bodies such as the UN and G20 are expected to be discussed by Putin. People familiar with the matter said Raisi is expected to raise the issue of India resuming purchases of Iranian oil – suspended in 2019 due to the threat of US secondary sanctions – during his meeting with Modi.
The prime minister will conclude his visit of about 24 hours to Uzbekistan with a visit to the mausoleum of Islam Karimov, the first president of Uzbekistan.
Xi and Putin held a bilateral meeting on Thursday, during which the Chinese president said his country will work with Russia to “extend strong mutual support on issues concerning each other’s core interests”. The two countries will also play a “leading role in injecting stability into a world of change and disorder”, Xi said.
Putin noted that the world is “undergoing multiple changes, yet the only thing that remains unchanged is the friendship and mutual trust between Russia and China”.
The Russian president also held bilateral meetings on Thursday with the Pakistani premier and his Iranian counterpart.