International

PM Modi to lead Indian delegation to SCO summit on September 17

By PTI

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lead the Indian delegation to the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to be held in the Tajik capital city of Dushanbe on September 17, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Wednesday.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will travel to Dushanbe for the SCO meetings, which are expected to hold wide-ranging discussions on the Afghan crisis and its internal and external implications, people familiar with the matter said.

“The 21st meeting of the SCO Council of States will be held in Dushanbe on September 17 in a hybrid format. The meeting will be chaired by the President of Tajikistan, Emomali Rahmon. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lead and address the Indian delegation. Via video-link Plenary session of the summit,” the Ministry of External Affairs said.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will represent India in Dushanbe.

The Ministry of External Affairs said the summit will be attended by leaders of SCO member states, observer states, the Secretary General of the SCO, the Executive Director of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Framework, the President of Turkmenistan and other invited guests.

In Dushanbe, Jaishankar will attend a meeting of the heads of state of the SCO and the Collective Security Treaty Organization on Afghanistan, the people mentioned above said.

This will be the first SCO summit to be held in a hybrid format and the fourth summit in which India will participate as a full member of the bloc.

“This summit assumes significance as the organization celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.

At the summit, the leaders are expected to review the organization’s activities over the past two decades and discuss the state and prospects for future cooperation,” the Ministry of External Affairs said.

It said that topical issues of regional and international importance are also expected to be discussed.

Jaishankar is also likely to hold several bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Iran and Tajikistan in the Tajik capital city.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdullahiyan and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi are expected to be in Dushanbe for the SCO meetings.

Earlier this month, Jaishankar spoke to his newly appointed Iranian counterpart and discussed the situation in Afghanistan as well as bilateral issues.

The SCO, which is seen as an antidote to NATO, is an eight-member economic and security bloc and has emerged as one of the largest inter-regional international organisations.

India and Pakistan became its permanent members in 2017.

The SCO was founded in 2001 at a summit in Shanghai by the presidents of Russia, China, the Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

India has shown keen interest in deepening its security-related cooperation with the SCO and its Regional Anti-Terrorism Framework (RATS), particularly on issues relating to security and defence.

India was made an observer to the SCO in 2005 and has generally participated in ministerial-level meetings of the grouping, which mainly focused on security and economic cooperation in the Eurasian region.

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