Modi will hold \'a few bilaterals\' at SCO meet, no word on Xi yet

Buzz also over Modi - Shehbaz Sharif meet to \'break the ice\' at Samarkand

NEW DELHI: India on Sunday announced that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would travel to Samarkand in Uzbekistan to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit on September 15 and 16, and was “likely to hold a few bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the summit.” The official confirmation of the visit comes amid speculation over whether or not Modi would hold a bilateral meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in Samarkand.

The SCO has Russia, China, the four Central Asian nations of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and the Kyrgyz Republic, besides India and Pakistan as its members, with Iran being approved for full membership last year. The summit will be attended by observer states and Turkmenistan.

The agreement on disengagement between Indian and Chinese troops in the Gogra-Hot Springs area of the Ladakh sector that was announced last week and is to be completed by Monday is seen to have considerably brightened the chances of a meeting between Modi and Xi although no official announcement has so far been made on any such meeting. If they do meet, it would be their first in-person meeting since the one at Mamallapuram near Chennai in October 2019. Six months after that meeting, China had begun mobilising its troops at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Ladakh sector which led to a clash between troops of both sides and casualties in June 2020.

On Pakistan, ties between the two nations had deteriorated sharply since the Pathankot terror strike in 2016 and the Pulwama terror strike in February 2019 that took the two neighbours almost to the brink of war. In August 2019, India revoked Article 370 that had conferred a special status on Jammu and Kashmir which led to Pakistan downgrading ties. Much to everyone’s surprise the two armies successfully implemented a ceasefire on the Line of Control (LoC).

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