PM Modi arrives in historic Uzbek city of Samarkand to attend SCO summit

Samarkand, Sep 15 (PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Uzbekistan’s historic city of Samarkand on Thursday to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit, which is set to deliberate on regional security challenges, boosting trade and energy supplies among other issues.

The SCO is holding its first in-person summit in Samarkand in Uzbekistan after two years. The summit will also see the participation of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“Landed in Samarkand to take part in the SCO Summit,” Modi tweeted.

At the airport, he was welcomed by Uzbek counterpart Abdulla Aripov, ministers, Governor of Samarkand region and senior officials.

Modi is also expected to hold bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the summit, including with Putin, and Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev among other leaders.

“At the SCO Summit, I look forward to exchanging views on topical, regional and international issues, the expansion of SCO and further deepening of multifaceted and mutually beneficial cooperation within the Organisation,” Modi said in a pre-departure statement.

“Under the Uzbek chairship, a number of decisions for mutual cooperation are likely to be adopted in areas of trade, economy, culture and tourism,” he said.

Modi said he was also looking forward to meeting President Mirziyoyev.

“I fondly recall his visit to India in 2018. He also graced the Vibrant Gujarat Summit as Guest of Honour in 2019. In addition, I will hold bilateral meetings with some of the other leaders attending the summit,” Modi said.

There is no confirmation over his possible bilateral with Xi.

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is also attending the summit.

“We will keep you fully apprised when the PM’s schedule of bilateral meetings unfolds,” Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra told reporters in New Delhi on Thursday when asked if Modi and Xi will have a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the summit.

Kwatra also said the Prime Minister’s participation in the summit was a reflection of the importance that India attaches to the SCO and its goals.

The summit of the eight-nation influential grouping is taking place amid the growing geo-political turmoil largely triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and China’s aggressive military posturing in the Taiwan Strait.

According to reports in Russian and Iranian media, Modi will hold separate bilateral meetings with Putin and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.

The SCO summit in Samarkand will have two sessions — one restricted session which is only meant for the SCO member states and then there will be an extended session that is likely to see the participation of the observers and the special invitees of the chair country.

Launched in Shanghai in June 2001, the SCO has eight full members, including its six founding members, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India and Pakistan joined as full members in 2017.