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    SCO Summit: For PM Modi, energy security tops agenda, not meetings with Xi or Sharif

    SCO Summit: For PM Modi, energy security tops agenda, not meetings with Xi or Sharif

    SCO Summit: For PM Modi, energy security tops agenda, not meetings with Xi or Sharif
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    By News18.com   IST (Updated)

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    With the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict having disturbed the global supply chain, India is looking for an alternate source of import to feed the rising demand of energy for its 130 crore population back home

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi will spend about 24 hours in Uzbekistan’s Samarkand, where he reached on Thursday evening to take part in the 22nd SCO Summit. On Friday morning, PM Modi will address the multilateral platform — first in a restricted session for SCO member countries, followed by an open session where observer countries and dialogue partners will also be present.
    India, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan are members of SCO, while Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia are observer states. Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia, Nepal, Turkey and Sri Lanka are dialogue partners of the organisation.
    This will be the first physical meeting of SCO leaders after a hiatus of two years when the discussions were held virtually.
    In 2020, when the world was in the throes of the Covid-19 pandemic, the SCO meeting was held in a virtual format. The 2021 summit took place under the shadow of the arrival of the Taliban as de facto rulers of Afghanistan.
    PM Modi, in his address at the 2021 SCO, had expressed concern over the possible rise of radicalism with the change in government in Afghanistan, which could affect the peace and security in the region.
    One year down the line, Afghanistan is still under their rule and a delegation from the Taliban is expected to arrive and take part in the SCO summit meetings in Samarkand.
    For now, Samarkand is buzzing with diplomatic activity as world leaders come together to engage in bilateral talks with their counterparts.
    Russian President Vladimir Putin met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the summit. During the talks, Putin emphasised that there was an attempt to destroy the multipolarity of the world order as he thanked China for an understanding on the Ukraine issue.
    Both NATO and the United States have blamed China for tacitly supporting Russia on global platforms on the issue of Ukraine. There have been reports of increased engagement in terms of trade with China from Russia in recent months.
    PM Modi is expected to hold bilateral talks with Putin and host Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev on Friday afternoon. A meeting with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is also slated for later in the evening.
    With the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict having disturbed the global supply chain, India is looking for an alternate source of import to feed the rising demand for energy for its 130 crore population back home.
    In the last few months, there has been a substantial increase in the import of oil and natural gas from Russia. In that context, energy security could be a key issue in PM Modi’s bilateral with his Iranian counterpart.
    The procedure to admit Iran to the SCO began in Dushanbe in September 2021 and this year onwards, it will become a permanent member of the grouping.
    Iran has been a traditional supplier of crude and gas to India but in recent years, under the influence of US sanctions, India had to substantially scale down its imports from Iran. However, with the changing geopolitical scenario, India is trying to create a balance with its partners globally, without disturbing its own domestic interests like energy security and defence supplies.
    The two most-awaited meetings or any level of bilateral exchanges could be between PM Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Shehbaz Sharif as well as Chinese President Xi Jinping.
    So far, no confirmation has been made from either side on possible engagements.
    Recently, a section of Pakistan’s political class had expressed the need to open up trade with India, especially after the devastating floods in Pakistan created a severe scarcity of essentials in the country.
    However, after India reiterated its long-stated stand that trade and terrorism cannot go together, there has been silence from Pakistan on the issue. India has maintained that terrorism has been a major roadblock in normalising the relationship with Pakistan.
    On China, there has been some positive movement in recent days, given last week’s disengagement of troops along the LAC. But there are still friction points along LAC where heavy military deployment continues to keep the sour memories of Galwan clash alive. India had lost 20 soldiers in the skirmishes and the relations with China are far from normal since then.
    It remains to be seen whether Modi-Jinping will let the slow pace in the bilateral relationship be as it is or make some changes in the approach to ensure ties grow stronger faster, leaving behind the scars of the past.
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