PM Modi, who was one of the last leaders to arrive in Samarkand for the SCO summit on Thursday evening, formally began his participation in the regional summit today starting with a group photo with Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and leaders of the other member states of the influential grouping.
It is for the first time that PM Modi and Xi Jingping came face-to-face since the start of the military standoff in Ladakh in 2020. The summit is also being attended by Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and leaders of several central Asian countries.
After the summit, PM Modi will hold bilateral talks with Vladimir Putin. The two leaders will discuss issues of strategic stability, the situation in the Asia Pacific region and bilateral cooperation within the UN and G20, the Kremlin has announced. PM Modi will also hold talks with Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.
"At the SCO Summit, I look forward to exchanging views on topical, regional and international issues, the expansion of SCO and further deepening of multifaceted and mutually beneficial cooperation within the Organisation," PM Modi said before leaving for the regional summit in Uzbekistan's historic city of Samarkand.
PM Modi also said he was also looking forward to meeting Uzbekistan President Mirziyoyev. "I fondly recall his visit to India in 2018. He also graced the Vibrant Gujarat Summit as Guest of Honour in 2019. In addition, I will hold bilateral meetings with some of the other leaders attending the summit," PM Modi said.
There is no confirmation over his possible bilateral with China's Xi Jingping. "We will keep you fully apprised when the PM's schedule of bilateral meetings unfolds," Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said when asked if PM Modi and the Chinese President will have a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the summit.
This is the first in-person summit of the bloc in two years, shaking off the Covid fears and providing a rare opportunity for all its eight heads of state to meet on the sidelines of the event to have face-to-face talks on pressing global and regional issues of common concern.
The summit of the eight-nation influential grouping is taking place amid the growing geo-political turmoil largely triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and China's aggressive military posturing on Taiwan.
The SCO summit will have two sessions - one restricted session which is only meant for the member states and then there will be an extended session that is likely to see the participation of the observers and the special invitees of the chair country.
Launched in Shanghai in June 2001, the SCO has eight full members, including its six founding members, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India and Pakistan joined as full members in 2017.
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