Prime Minister Narendra Modi will land in Samarkand on Thursday ahead of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit the next day, and is also expected to hold bilateral meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and the host Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
While diplomatic sources said Indian and Turkish officials were in touch over the possibility of a meeting with Turkish President Reccep Tayyip Erdogan, officials have indicated that a “structured” meeting between Mr. Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping or Pakistan’s President Shahbaz Sharif was “unlikely” at present.
“It is up to the leaders of countries to decide which other leaders they wish to speak on the sidelines of the summit,” said the Uzbekistan Coordinator of the SCO Rakhmatulla Nurimbetov, responding to a question from The Hindu about whether the host country was involved in facilitating the meetings. “But the Samarkand summit will be an opportunity for leaders who have not met since the COVID pandemic to spend time together,” he said.
Officials also said it was unclear whether Mr. Modi would attend a dinner meant for leaders gathered for the SCO meet, who include Mr. Xi and Mr. Sharif. While government sources declined to comment on whether the possibility of Mr. Modi skipping the event indicated any “messaging”, the event was expected to be the first time he would have come face-to-face with the two leaders, neither of whom he has had any direct contact with in the past few years.
On Friday, Mr. Modi will attend the SCO main summit of eight members, who are also expected to induct Iran as the ninth member of the grouping. A second meeting of all the invitee leaders, including the leaders of Turkey, Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Mongolia will take place subsequently, after which all the leaders will hold bilateral meetings on the sidelines.