With Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif listening, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged Shanghai Cooperation Organisation member states Friday to “give each other full right to transit”.
Addressing the SCO summit that included China President Xi Jinping and Russia President Vladimir Putin in the Uzbekistan city of Samarkand, Modi framed the “right to transit” in the context of connectivity and how it could help establish reliable and resilient supply chains in the region.
Lack of transit across Pakistan’s territory has been a challenge for India to access Central Asian markets, and Delhi has flagged this concern several times in the past.
Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi said that despite impressive potential, infrastructural connections in the field of transit between members of the SCO are “not so extensive”.
“Iran gives special priority to the development of the North-South Corridor and has made huge investments,” the Iran government tweeted, quoting Raisi.
In his speech, Modi, who held bilateral talks later with Putin, steered clear of any reference to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He instead called it the “crisis in Ukraine” which, along with the Covid pandemic, he said, caused obstacles in global supply chains.
President Xi, meanwhile, expressed support for India, which is going to assume the Presidency of the SCO and will host the summit next year.
The Prime Minister did not make any mention of “respect for territorial integrity” — he mentioned it in his summit speech last year. He also made no mention of extremism and radicalisation.
Modi said India was “making progress” on becoming “a manufacturing hub”.
Congratulating Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev for SCO’s effective leadership in a “challenging global and regional environment”, the Prime Minister said, “Today, when the whole world is facing the challenges of economic recovery after the pandemic, the role of SCO becomes very important. SCO member countries contribute about 30 per cent of global GDP, and 40 per cent of the world’s population also lives in SCO countries. India supports greater cooperation and mutual trust among SCO members.”
“The pandemic and the crisis in Ukraine caused many obstacles in global supply chains, due to which the whole world is facing an unprecedented energy and food crisis. SCO must make efforts to develop reliable, resilient and diversified supply chains in our region. This will require better connectivity, as well as it will be important that we all give each other full right to transit,” he said.
On the progress over “making India a manufacturing hub”, he said, “India’s young and talented workforce makes us naturally competitive. India’s economy is expected to grow by 7.5 per cent this year, which will be the highest among the world’s largest economies.”