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Xi, Khan watching, Modi says SCO members must respect sovereignty

Modi’s remarks are in line with comments made by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh during the Indo-US 2+2 meeting in New Delhi last month.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Updated: November 11, 2020 6:57:49 am
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the SCO summit, via video conferencing, in New Delhi on Tuesday. (PTI)

With Chinese President Xi Jinping and Pakistan PM Imran Khan listening, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said all member-nations of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) should respect each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Sharing a virtual platform with both Xi and Khan for the first time since the India-China border standoff began in early May this year, Modi, while talking about India’s participation in strengthening connectivity among nations, said, “India believes that to enhance connectivity, it is important that we move forward while respecting one another’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Modi’s remarks are in line with comments made by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh during the Indo-US 2+2 meeting in New Delhi last month.

In a thinly-veiled reference to Pakistan, the Prime Minister also hit out at those making repeated attempts to “unnecessarily” bring bilateral issues to the SCO in violation of the grouping’s foundational principles.

“India has always been resolute in working in sync with principles laid out in the SCO charter. But it is unfortunate that there have been repeated efforts to unnecessarily bring bilateral issues in the SCO agenda, which is in violation of the SCO spirit,” Modi said.

Pakistan has been trying to raise the issue of Jammu and Kashmir on almost every international platform since August last year when Article 370 was revoked.

Chinese President Xi said SCO members should deepen mutual trust and resolve disputes and differences through dialogue and consultations, while firmly dealing with terrorist, separatist and extremist forces.

The last time Modi and Xi shared a virtual stage was at the G-20 leaders’ summit in March this year to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic.

Xi, in remarks made in the backdrop of the over six-month-long border standoff between India and China in eastern Ladakh, said history has proved and will continue to prove that good, neighbourly friendship will go beyond a beggar-thy-neighbour approach, mutually beneficial cooperation will take over the zero-sum game and multilateralism will prevail over unilateralism.

“We need to deepen solidarity and mutual trust and resolve disputes and differences through dialogue and consultations… We need to act on the vision of common, comprehensive and sustainable security, address all forms of threats and challenges effectively and foster a sound security atmosphere in our region,” he said.

Countries of the SCO should “resolutely oppose external forces’ interfering in their internal affairs under any pretext,” Xi said. This comes in the backdrop of the Quad foreign ministers meeting that met in Tokyo last month, with an eye on an aggressive Beijing in the Indo-Pacific region.

Xi said SCO members should “firmly support countries concerned in law-based efforts to steadily advance major domestic political agenda… and firmly oppose interference by external forces in the domestic affairs of SCO members under whatever pretext”.

Modi will also share a virtual platform with the Chinese President on November 17 for the BRICS meeting and on November 21-22 for the G-20 summit. The two leaders have met at least 18 times in the last six years.

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