India has to complete a long process for SCO membership

A long-drawn process lies ahead for India to complete its entry into the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) which will begin its annual summit on June 23-24 at Tashkent, confirmed the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Wednesday, maintaining that India seeks “fairly flexible multilateralism” in its “extended neighbourhood.”

“At this upcoming summit, the process of India’s accession to the SCO will start with a signature on the ‘base document’ which is called the ‘Memorandum of Obligations’,” said Sujata Mehta, Secretary (West),” highlighting that the issue of expansion of the SCO has been part of a long-drawn multilateral discussion. A diplomatic source has confirmed that India will attend the summit as an “Acceding Member” but will speak from the category of “Observers.”

“There is a schedule laid down for us to sign up to the other documents that are required that India needs to accede to and that will happen as the year goes by,” Ms. Mehta said, explaining that India would have to sign at least 30 sets of documents that would finally culminate in India acceding to the SCO.

The Memorandum of Obligations, however, will begin a process of more intense engagement. “We have been working with the SCO members on several fronts like anti-terrorism, transport, culture and we hope that our engagement in these areas will intensify through this,” Ms. Mehta said and added, “there is a talk of an SCO energy club emerging and we will wait and see how that develops.

The memorandum which India will sign on June 24 will also provide opportunity to intensify anti-terror cooperation between India and China. “Anti-terror cooperation is a subject under the SCO that all member countries undertake and we too will be part of that and certainly we too envisage cooperation on that front,” she said.

However, unlike the last SCO summit at Ufa, where the bilateral between PM Narendra Modi and his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif was the highlight, this year Pakistan has not yet “formally communicated” to India about its representation at the SCO, reducing the chances of a bilateral meet. However, Prime Minister Modi is expected to hold two bilateral meetings with President Xi Jinping of China and President Vladimir Putin of Russia at Tashkent.

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2020 8:00:38 PM |

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