India enters Shanghai Cooperation Organisation with eye on boosting counter-terror

Frederick Owens
June 10, 2018

PM Modi is scheduled to hold a bilateral summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping apart from holding meetings with various other participating leaders. Later this year, the Chinese Defence Minister will visit India, while National Security Advisor Ajit Doval will travel to China for the Special Representative-level border talks.

Modi and Xi, who have met on more than a dozen occasions in the past four years, have been for some time trying to rise above the historical and policy trappings that has held India-China relations in an unsettled state for decades.

Before leaving for the summit, Modi said he he was "excited to lead the Indian delegation for our first-ever meeting as a full member" of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and said would talk to its leaders about a "wide range of subjects".

The two leaders also discussed regional situation and reiterated their commitment to regional peace and stability.

India said past year that China had not stuck to an agreement to share hydrological data, or scientific information on the movement, distribution and quality of water for the Brahmaputra river.

After talks between the two leaders, the two sides inked an MoU on sharing hydrological information of the Brahmaputra River by China to India and another pact to facilitate export of non-Basmati rice from India to China. The decision on rice exports could be a starting point for sale of Indian farm produce and processed products like sugar to China in order to reduce the trade imbalance. "Our talks will add further vigour to the India-China friendship", Mr. Modi tweeted after the meeting.

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Modi is also said that have acknowledged the Wuhan summit as a "milestone in relationship", one which would help develop mutual understanding and trust and take the relationship forward.

India is expected to be the only country in the Qingdao declaration to not endorse the BRI, as was the case at the recent SCO foreign ministers meet where the final statement awkwardly named the ministers of all countries, barring India, in the part of the statement that named the BRI.

The SCO is a very influential structure for ensuring security, the Iranian leader said.

In this context, Xi also referred to growing popularity of Indian films in China and particularly mentioned about films Dangal and Bahubali.

The SCO was set up by China in 2001 for political, economic and security cooperation amongst Eurasian countries and now includes Russia, India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

Though not officially on the agenda, analysts say that one key topic of discussion this year may focus on whether Iran will be allowed to ascend from its position as an SCO observer to become a full member state - a development it has sought since 2008 but has been unable to achieve while subject to United Nations sanctions.

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