Samarkand: The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit got underway in Samarkand, Uzbekistan on Friday with the participation of the leaders of eight member states India, China, Russia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
Ahead of the formal start to the key regional meet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was welcomed by President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev upon arrival at the Congress Centre here.
“Together for the region! 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,” said Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi in a tweet.
Samarkand has been in a festive mood since Thursday with Uzbek authorities throwing a party for the delegates where Bollywood old golds “Jimmy Jimmy aaja aaja aaja” and “I am a disco dancer” — were prominently played.
Modi is also scheduled to hold bilateral meetings with Mirziyoyev, besides Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on the sidelines of the summit.
In the evening, the Prime Minister will pay a floral tribute to the first President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov who passed away in 2016.
During the Summit, the leaders of SCO countries will review the organization’s activities over the past two decades and discuss the state and prospects of multilateral cooperation in the future.
They are set to deliberate on regional security challenges, boosting trade and energy supplies among other issues.
The SCO was set up in June 2001 and India became a full member in 2017.
The Council of the SCO Heads of State is the highest decision-making body of the Organization and meets for an annual summit that is hosted by a Member State by rotation.
Uzbekistan is the current Chair of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). India has been working closely with Uzbekistan towards the success of its Chairship.
Modi has been leading the Indian delegation to the SCO Summit every year since India became its full member in 2017.
During the last two Summits in 2020 and 2021, Modi participated in virtual format.
Samarkand, being the first in-person Summit after the Covid pandemic hit the world, is witnessing full physical format participation by all leaders.
After the Council of Heads of State, the Council of Heads of Government is the second most important mechanism of SCO and deals with the trade, economy, and cultural agenda of the organization. The Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) of SCO is another important mechanism of the organization.
The Summit has two sessions – a Restricted session only for the SCO Member States and an Extended session that will also include participation by Observers.
The heads of the two permanent bodies of SCO – Secretary General of the SCO Secretariat and Director of SCO RATS are set to be present in both sessions.
A Samarkand Declaration and numerous other documents will be finalized during the two days.
Addressing a special briefing ahead of the departure of Modi for his 24-hour visit to Samarkand, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra on Thursday said his participation in the Summit is a reflection of the importance that India attaches to the SCO and its goals.
“This is also tied to our approach and engagement with that region as a whole. As you are aware, we hosted the first India – Central Asia Summit earlier this year, preceded by a Foreign Minister level meeting. We remain focused on strengthening our linkages with Central Asia and the extended neighborhood, and this visit will take this vision forward,” he said.