Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan will not participate in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s (SCO) council of heads of government summit on Monday. The virtual summit will be chaired by Vice president M Venkaiah Naidu. Also Read – China’s Defence Minister Meets Pak Army Chief; Discusses Regional Security Issues
PM Modi, Khan and Chinese President Xi Jinping had joined the virtual SCO summit, chaired by Russia earlier this month. The prime ministers of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan will attend the summit of the heads of government of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation while Pakistan will be represented by its parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has said. Also Read – China Building Dam on Brahmaputra River, Says Report | What it Means For India
India is hosting the summit for the first time after it gained full membership of the influential grouping in 2017. The summit will take place in the virtual format. The SCO, seen as a counterweight to NATO, has emerged as one of the largest transregional international organisations. Also Read – COVID-19: India’s Daily Cases Drops To 38,772, Over 45,000 Recoveries Reported In Last 24 Hours
“The prime ministers from the SCO member states of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan will attend the SCO meeting on November 30. Pakistan will be represented by the parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs,” the MEA said in a statement.
Apart from the SCO member states, the four observer states of the SCO — Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia — will also participate in the summit. The MEA said the president of Afghanistan, the first vice president of Iran, the prime minister of Belarus and the deputy prime minister of Mongolia will represent their countries.
India assumed the chair of the SCO Council of Heads of Government on November 2 last year as per rotation from the previous chair – Uzbekistan – and will complete its year-long tenure on November 30 by hosting the summit.
“It will be the first time that a summit-level meeting will be held under India’s chairmanship, since it gained full membership of the organisation in 2017,” the MEA said.
According to the reports, India has usually been represented at meetings of the SCO council of heads of government at the level of the external affairs minister, while defence minister Rajnath Singh had attended last year’s meeting in Uzbekistan.
PM Modi is set to visit his constituency of Varanasi on November 30 to launch the Varanasi-Prayagraj highway project and participate in Deepotsav celebrations at the Ganges ghats.
The MEA also said that India hopes to further strengthen cooperation in trade, economic and cultural spheres within the bloc.
“By chairing the 19th meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of Government on 30 November, India hopes to further strengthen greater trade, economic and cultural cooperation within SCO by putting human beings at the centre of SCO activities and to foster greater peace and prosperity in the region,” it said.
“We hope that India’s initiatives will not only be helpful for the SCO Member States in overcoming the economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic but will also signal our continued commitment to strengthening the organisation,” the MEA said.
The summit will end with the adoption of a joint communique, the Ministry of External Affairs said.