Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be in Uzbekistan on September 15 and 16 to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin will also attend.
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The SCO summit comes at a time of escalating tensions and tensions over the Russia-Ukraine war and India’s border disputes with China. The leaders are expected to review the group’s activities over the past two decades and discuss possibilities of multilateral cooperation.
Prime Minister Modi is also likely to hold some bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the summit, which will be held in the Uzbek city of Samarkand, a stop on the ancient Silk Road.
This will be the first time PM Modi and Xi Jinping will be face-to-face after meeting in 2019 in Brasilia on the other side of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa).
Russia has said Xi Jinping will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the summit as Moscow seeks to strengthen ties with Beijing following unprecedented Western sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine.
The Beijing-headquartered SCO is made up of China, Russia, India, Pakistan as well as four Central Asian countries – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. It is the largest regional organization in the world, covering approximately 60% of Eurasia’s area, 40% of the world’s population, and over 30% of global GDP.
Chinese President Xi Jinping will pay state visits to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan this week – his first overseas visit since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
After the Samarkand summit, where Iran was expected to be formally admitted to the SCO, India will assume the presidency of the influential grouping of Central Asian republics.
The first in-person SCO summit since 2019 will be closely watched for the prospect of bilateral meetings with Chinese President Xi, Russian President Putin and Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif among the leaders to attend.
Xi Jinping is set for the ruling Communist Party’s twice-important congress in a decade in October, where he is widely expected to secure an unprecedented third term as president, according to AFP news agency.
Previous Chinese leaders have generally avoided traveling abroad in the weeks before party congresses, when behind-the-scenes power struggles often intensified.