Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek to attend the two-day Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit. The Summit began on Thursday and is the Prime Minister’s first foreign visit to attend a multilateral body meeting since his re-election in May. PM Modi has already held bilateral meetings with Russian president Vladimir Putin as well as Chinese president Xi Jinping in an attempt to boost strategic relationships with the two countries on the sidelines of the Bishkek SCO Summit.
Here's a quick catch-up on the prime minister’s first multilateral summit since re-election: History of the SCO
Originally known as the “Shanghai Five”, the SCO began as a 1995 treaty with China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan as its members. The group expanded to include Uzbekistan in 2001 and the creation of the SCO charter formalised the organisation in 2003. A so-called counterbalance to the US-led NATO, the SCO focuses on promoting cooperation and coordination against terrorism and other external threats, with an aim to maintain regional stability.
On 9 June 2017, at a summit in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana, India and Pakistan were also inducted as permanent members of the organisation. While initial concerns about India’s role owing to Pakistan’s presence and China’s dominance in the organisation were raised, New Delhi’s entry has expanded the grouping’s reach in regional geopolitics. With the world’s top two populous countries included in the SCO, the organisation has the largest population coverage and potential market.
The 2019 Summit
PM Modi said that countries sponsoring, aiding and supporting terrorism must be held accountable, in a stern message directed towards Pakistan. India stands for a terrorism-free society, he said in the presence of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan. PM Modi also called for a global conference to combat terrorism and added that countries will have to come out of their narrow purview to unite against terrorism.
While attending the SCO, PM Modi is also going to meet the presidents of Kazakhstan and Iran on the sidelines on Friday. While this is the first time Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan will see Modi since the Pulwama attack during the summit, there has been no indication of potential talks between the two estranged neighbours.
During his address to the plenary session of the Summit, Modi reiterated India's support for the Afghan-led peace process and also gave a 'HEALTH' mantra to nations.
"H stands for health and medicare cooperation, E for eco cooperation, A for alternate connectivity via waterways, l for literature promotion, T for terrorism free society, H for humanitarian cooperation,” he said.
India-China relations: Xi-Modi commit to boosting ties
Meanwhile, PM Modi met Chinese president Xi Jinping on Thursday. The two leaders spoke on a range of issues, including terrorism. The Chinese president also said that his country “does not pose a threat” to India during the meeting. Jinping also expressed an interest in developing a closer partnership between Beijing and New Delhi, News18 reported.
“We need to make good use of the meeting of the Special Representatives on the boundary issue and other mechanisms, strengthen Confidence-Building Measures and maintain stability at the border areas", said Jinping.
Jinping noted that promoting regional connectivity remains an important agenda, adding that the development of the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor (BCIM) will “achieve better cooperation”.
Also, given the rising protectionism in the US due to the policies of the incumbent Trump administration, the two countries need to invest in a strategic partnership to promote the idea of liberal free trade.
India-Russia ties: Modi’s “excellent” meeting with President Putin
PM Modi called his talks with Putin on Thursday “excellent” in a tweet and the two were able to discuss ways to “further boost the India-Russia strategic relationship”. Modi also thanked Putin for his support for the rifle manufacturing unit in Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi, ANI reported. The manufacturing unit in Amethi was inaugurated by Modi before the Lok Sabha elections in 2019.
Foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale added that Putin has invited Modi to be the main guest at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia in early September this year, and PM Modi has accepted the invitation.Gokhale also said that there will be a Russia, India and China trilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, later this month.