Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday participdated in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation's (SCO) Summit in Uzbekistan's Samarkand where he and fellow leaders of the group held deliberations on the regional security situation and ways to enhance trade and connectivity at the annual summit of the grouping.
Modi also proposed initiatives for food security and traditional medicine and raised the issue of energy and food crises in the world caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and Ukraine crisis.
Besides Modi, the SCO Summit is being attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
It is for the first time Modi and Xi came face-to-face at the summit since the start of the border standoff between India and China in eastern Ladakh over two years back when Chinese soldiers entered Indian territory and clashed with Indian soldiers. However, there is no clarity yet on whether there will be a bilateral meeting between Modi and Xi on the sidelines of the summit.
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.
Ahead of the deliberations at the restricted format of the summit, leaders of the permanent members of the grouping posed for a group photo at Samarkand's Congress Centre.
At the venue of the summit, Modi was warmly greeted by Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
"President Shavkat Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan welcomed Prime Minster Narendra Modi to the Congress Centre in Samarkand for the 22nd SCO Summit. India has been working closely with Uzbekistan towards the success of their Chairship," said External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi on Twitter.
In another tweet, he said:"Prime Minister Narendra Modi joins the leaders of SCO Member States for discussions on topical, regional and international issues, including regional peace and security, trade and connectivity, culture and tourism."
Together for the region!— Arindam Bagchi (@MEAIndia) September 16, 2022
PM @narendramodi joins the leaders of SCO Member States for discussions on topical, regional and international issues, including regional peace and security, trade and connectivity, culture and tourism. pic.twitter.com/2UnFnSn7WN
In his remarks at the SCO Summit, Modi mentioned the challenges to the economic recovery from the impact of Covid-19 pandemic and higlighted the centrality of the SCO countries in this. He also mentioned the supply-chain disruption from the pandemic and the Ukraine crisis.
"Several disruptions occured in the supply chains because of the pandemic and Ukraine crisis because of which the world is facing an unprecedented energy and food crisis. The SCO should work towards credible, resilient, and diversifiable supply chains in our region. Better connectivity is needed for this. It would also be critical that we allow transit rights to each other," said Modi in Hindi.
My remarks at the SCO Summit in Samarkand. https://t.co/6f42ycVLzq— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) September 16, 2022
Modi further said that India is working towards being a manufacturing hub, adding that the country is leading with innovation and there are over 70,000 start-ups which could be beneficial to SCO as well. For these objectives, Modi also proposed setting up of a Special Working Group on Start-ups and Innovation to share Indian experience with SCO countries.
Speaking on food security, Modi said, "One solution to this is farming and consumption of millets. Millets is a superfood that's not just grown in SCO countries but across the world for ages and it is a traditional, nutritional, and affordable alternative to deal with food security...We should deliberate on a millet food festival among SCO countries."
Modi also proposed a special working group on traditional medicine and offered Indian leadership in the initiative.
After the summit, Modi will have separate bilateral meetings with Putin, Uzbek President Mirziyoyev and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.
Modi arrived here on Thursday night on an around 24-hour visit. Hours before departing for Samarkand, Modi said he was looking forward to exchanging views at the summit on topical regional and international issues as well as on reform and expansion of the grouping.
"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. Under the Uzbek chairship, a number of decisions for mutual cooperation are likely to be adopted in areas of trade, economy, culture and tourism," said Modi.
The SCO was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the presidents of Russia, China, the Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Over the years, it has emerged as one of the largest trans-regional international organisations. India and Pakistan became its permanent members in 2017. Iran is likely to be given the status of a permanent member of the SCO at the Samarkand summit.
(With PTI inputs)