Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set to travel to Samarkand, Uzbekistan for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit on September 15-16. It will be the first face-to-face summit since June 2019, when the SCO summit was held in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
The Prime Minister, sources said, is likely to reach Samarkand on September 14 and return on September 16, according to the current travel schedule. India’s presence at the summit is important as it will take over the rotating chairmanship of the SCO at the end of the Samarkand summit. Delhi will chair the grouping for a year until September 2023. Next year, India will host the SCO summit, which will be attended by the leaders of China, Russia, Pakistan, among others.
The Prime Minister’s visit to Samarkand will be closely monitored for the possibility of bilateral negotiations on the sidelines of the summit. Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi are among the leaders expected at the summit.
While there has been no official word on the planned bilateral meetings, the leaders are expected to be in the same room as well as the leaders’ lounge for the summit. Modi and Xi last met face-to-face and held bilateral talks in November 2019, during the BRICS summit in Brazil.
Ties between the two countries have suffered a setback following a military encounter between Indian and Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh since May 2020. The stand-off between Indian and Chinese troops at one of the last remaining friction points Patrol Point 15 in the Gogra-Hot Springs region opened up an opportunity for both sides to engage at the highest level. But a lot will depend on how smoothly the disconnection process is completed. It started last Thursday and is due to end on Monday (September 12). The prime minister’s meetings with Putin and Raisi are a possibility, the sources said.