Modi to meet Xi to repair bilateral ties

Regional focus:Prime Minister Narendra Modi leaves for Astana from New Delhi on Thursday.PTI/PIB

Regional focus:Prime Minister Narendra Modi leaves for Astana from New Delhi on Thursday.PTI/PIB   | Photo Credit: PTI

Differences over China’s Belt and Road project, Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal have put relations under strain

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in Astana, Kazakhstan on Friday on the sidelines of a major security summit. The meeting follows the deterioration of ties in the past year, especially after India boycotted China’s Belt and Road Forum in mid-May and a verbal spat broke out between New Delhi and Beijing over the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh in April.

Sources said the meeting had been agreed upon in principle, and a “time was being coordinated”.

The meeting comes at a crucial time for India as it is keen on membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the plenary session of which is being held in Geneva on June 19, and also because of the June 30 deadline for the U.N. Security Council committee to designate Masood Azhar a terrorist. China has been blocking both.

SCO membership

Mr. Modi landed in Astana on Thursday to attend the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), where India and Pakistan will be inducted as members. Mr. Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif attended a welcome banquet to the small grouping that currently comprises China, Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Officials have practically ruled out a bilateral meeting between the Indian and the Pakistani Prime Ministers, with the Ministry saying a meeting had “not been sought by either side”.

In a statement prior to his departure, Mr. Modi said he looked forward to “deepening India’s association with the SCO which will help [India] in economic, connectivity and counter-terrorism cooperation, among other things.”

“We have long-standing relations with SCO members and look forward to progressing them further through the SCO for mutual betterment and growth of our countries and our people.”

The current SCO grouping, which China and Russia initiated in 2001, focusses on security cooperation between its members.

Pakistani stand

On Thursday, the Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesperson sidestepped questions about how tensions between the two countries would play out at the regional summit, saying that it would fulfil its obligations on the SCO charter “as per the Shanghai spirit”, a reference to ‘good-neighbourliness’, which is considered an SCO mandate.

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