SCO Summit: PM Modi Arrives In Samarkand For SCO Summit, To Hold Bilateral With Group Leaders

Speculation has been rife whether PM Narendra Modi would hold meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in Uzbekistan's Samarkand on the sidelines of SCO Summit.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Samarkand for SCO Summit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday arrived in Uzbekistan's Samarkand on to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit amid speculation and suspense whether he would also meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Summit.

Leaders at the SCO Summit will deliberate on regional security challenges, boosting trade and energy supplies among other issues. The SCO is holding its first in-person summit in Samarkand in Uzbekistan after two years. Besides Modi and Xi, Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Russian President Vladimir Putin are also participating.

"Landed in Samarkand to take part in the SCO Summit," said Modi on Twitter.

At the airport, Modi was welcomed by his Uzbek counterpart Abdulla Aripov, the country's ministers, the Governor of Samarkand region, and senior officials.

Modi is also expected to hold bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the summit, including with Putin, and Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev among other leaders.

"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 in a pre-departure statement.

Modi further said he was also looking forward to meeting President Mirziyoyev.

"I fondly recall his visit to India in 2018. He also graced the Vibrant Gujarat Summit as Guest of Honour in 2019. In addition, I will hold bilateral meetings with some of the other leaders attending the summit," Modi said.

Despite speculation, there is no confirmation over his possible bilateral with Xi.

"We will keep you fully apprised when the PM's schedule of bilateral meetings unfolds," Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra told reporters in New Delhi on Thursday when asked if Modi and Xi will have a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the summit.

Outlook's Seema Guha reported, "There is no indication that Modi and Xi will hold a bilateral conversation on the sidelines of the SCO. But a pull-aside is always possible, a person familiar with such meetings said. Pull asides in diplomacy is when one leader has a short unscheduled and unstructured conversation with another leader at a multilateral event."

Kwatra also said Modi's participation in the Summit was a reflection of the importance that India attaches to the SCO and its goals.

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.

According to reports in Russian and Iranian media, Modi will hold separate bilateral meetings with Putin and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.

The SCO summit in Samarkand will have two sessions — one restricted session which is only meant for the SCO member states and then there will be an extended session that is likely to see the participation of the observers and the special invitees of the chair country.

Launched in Shanghai in June 2001, the SCO has eight full members, including its six founding members, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India and Pakistan joined as full members in 2017. 

(With PTI inputs)