Prime Minister Narendra Modi will arrive in Russia on Wednesday on a three-day visit to attend the BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summits, on the sidelines of which he is likely to meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
An announcement with regard to India’s membership of the six-nation grouping of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan is expected during the SCO summit on July 9-10.
A top Russian official on Tuesday said the process of India’s membership will be completed by next year, along with that of Pakistan, to make it an eight-member body.
As of now, India has observer status in the 19-year-old grouping whose focus is on boosting connectivity, counter-terrorism cooperation, bolstering cooperation in energy sector, enhancing trade and dealing with drug trafficking.
India was made an observer in 2005 and it applied for membership last year. Pakistan also is an observer and is likely to be made a member.
“India and Pakistan are not joining the SCO tomorrow. The process of engaging them is beginning,” Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov said.
He said their admission demands the coordination of a working memorandum and the two countries also need to join 28 key documents of the group.
“After that, as we hope, the membership of these two countries in the SCO will be finalised and we will be able to talk about our Group of Eight participants,” he told Rossiya 24 TV channel.
Modi will attend the SCO summit, making it the first time that an Indian Prime Minister participates at SCO summit.
Ushakov said the process of the two countries’ accession to the SCO will kick off this week at the summit here, the Tass news agency reported.
“The membership of India and Pakistan in the SCO will be finalised by the next meeting of the leaders in 2016 in India,” Ushakov added.
To pave the way for admission of India and Pakistan, SCO members had approved two key documents regarding the procedure for granting membership and the obligations of states applying for it in the leaders’ summit in Dushanbe, Tajikistan in September.
The summit of five-nation BRICS — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — will see discussions on enhancing cooperation in the economic area. With the BRICS Development Bank already set up, the summit could also look at the possibility of starting credit facility in local currency.
The first head of the bank is noted Indian banker K V Kamath.
Besides Modi and Xi, the BRICS Summit is being attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and South African President Jacob Zuma.
“I expect positive outcomes in economic cooperation and cultural ties among the BRICS nations. The (BRICS) Summit in 2014 was productive and I am sure we will build on the ground covered during the last Summit,” Modi had said in a statement prior to his departure from Delhi on Monday.
He had also said that he will be meeting the leaders of BRICS nations individually and will be a part of the various interactions of BRICS leaders with captains of industry and leaders of other invited countries.
“India attaches high importance to BRICS. It is a great forum that can contribute effectively to mitigate global challenges. BRICS also has a very crucial role to play in furthering world peace and security and ensuring we leave behind a better planet for our future generations,” the Prime Minister had said.
On the sidelines of the SCO Summit, Modi and Sharif are expected to have a meeting to discuss the bilateral relations. The two countries have recently made goodwill gestures by releasing fishermen on the occasion of the ongoing Ramzan.
Prior to the release, Modi called up Sharif on June 16 to convey India’s decision to free the detained Pakistani fishermen on the pious occasion of Ramzan.
He also extended best wishes to Pakistan Prime Minister on Ramzan while stressing the need for having “peaceful” and “friendly” bilateral ties, which had been recently hit by a war of words between the two countries.
India released 88 Pakistani fishermen while Pakistan freed 111 Indian fishermen.
Pakistani and Indian leaders had recently exchanged sharp comments after Modi’s critical remarks about Pakistan during his Dhaka visit and in the wake of India’s military action in Myanmar.
Modi is also expected to meet Xi and discuss the bilateral ties, amid India’s unhappiness over Beijing constructing an economic corridor with Pakistan passing through PoK.
India has raised objections to the USD 46 billion China- Pakistan Economic Corridor project passing through Pakistan- occupied Kashmir.
Part of the 3,000-km economic corridor linking Pakistan’s Gwadar port with Kashgar in China’s north-western autonomous region of Xinjiang will pass through the Gilgit-Baltistan region.
India has also expressed concerns over China’s recent move to block action against Pakistan in the UN over release of Mumbai attack mastermind Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi. Modi, who is also visiting five Central Asian countries, will travel to Russia from Kazakhstan.
Modi will also have bilateral meetings with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani besides leaders of BRICS members.