Prime Minister Narendra Modi leaves for Tashkent on Thursday to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit with India set to become a member of the China-led grouping. Modi is also to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines during which he is expected to take up India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit will be held in Tashkent from June 23-24.
The decision on India’s admission to the six-member bloc was taken last year at Ufa, Russia.
Sujata Mehta, Secretary (West), Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), said that at the upcoming Summit, the process of India’s accession to the SCO will start with a signature on the based document which is called the Memorandum of Obligations.
The SCO is a regional grouping comprising China, Russia and four Central Asian Republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
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At the summit, for the first time, the SCO will be expanded to accommodate new countries and make them permanent members of the group. Both India and Pakistan are to be made members. Afghanistan, Iran and Mongolia are observers at the SCO.
Membership of the SCO will give a fillip to India’s energy cooperation with the Central Asian members.
“SCO is a major group in terms of countries that have huge potential in terms of energy. There is also a talk of an SCO energy club emerging,” Mehta said.
On the question of India’s full-time membership to SCO, Mehta said: “There is a schedule laid down for us to sign up to the other documents that are required that India needs to accede to and this is a process for which there is a schedule. That will happen as the year goes by.
“We have been in discussion with the SCO about the documents themselves that have to be signed. There is Memorandum of Obligation which is the base document, and there are more than 30 other documents that are required to be acceded to. They have to be gone through and reviewed. We basically commit to undertaking everything,” she said.
“When you join an international organisation you have to commit to implementing all the obligations that other members have undertaken till that point,” she added.
Apart from Jinping, Modi will also meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the summit.
Asked if India’s membership of the NSG will figure in the meeting with Jinping, Mehta said: “Yes there will be a meeting with the President of China. There will also be a meeting with the President of Russia and couple of others as well.
On the issue of bilateral talks with Pakistan at the Summit, she said: “We don’t have a formal communication on who is representing Pakistan at the summit.”
China had said on Wednesday that India’s entry into the bloc was not on the agenda of the Seoul plenary as New Delhi is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
“Cooperation in the area of security is a part of the subject matter of the SCO. In fact there is a regional anti-terrorism mechanism that is formally established within the SCO and we too will be part of that,” Mehta added.