PM Modi to talk with Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin at SCO

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin in separate bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit at Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on June 13-14. India is likely to take up the issue of terrorism at the SCO when Modi addresses the summit on June 14.

The SCO is an eight-member Central Asian grouping that comprises China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, India, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan. India and Pakistan became SCO members in 2017. No bilateral meeting has been scheduled with Pakistan PM Imran Khan though it remains to be seen whether there is any impromptu “pull-aside” informal meeting of the two leaders.

But interestingly, certain multilateral defence exchanges of the SCO are due later this year that could include both Indian and Pakistani troops — for the first time since the military tension between the two countries in February — when the troops of the two countries could be part of the same exercise.

On whether the menace of terrorism would be raised at the conference at a time when Pakistan is under global watch over state-sponsored terror, senior MEA officials indicated New Delhi would raise the issue of the threat terrorism poses to all nations. MEA secretary (west) Gitesh Sarma said: “We will do whatever we have to. Terrorism is a danger to all.”

But while India is likely to take up the issue of terrorism strongly, speculation is rife that New Delhi may not directly raise the issue of terror emanating from Pakistani soil or territory controlled by it due to the multilateral nature of SCO.

In Beijing, meanwhile, the Chinese foreign ministry said President Xi and Prime Minister Modi, “who are good friends”, may discuss their respective trade frictions with the United States and reach a consensus on opposing trade protectionism in their “very important” meeting this week on SCO’s sidelines.

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