The recently concluded Shanghai Cooperation Summit (SCO) summit in the city of Samarkand in Uzbekistan was an historical one for India. The prime focus in the summit was given to issues related to trade, inter-connectivity, Post Covid world order and the challenges the world is facing due to the ongoing Russia Ukraine war.
For India, the summit is of great importance as it provides a platform to have an annual dialogue with its strategic allies, especially the Central Asian Republics (CARs). The admission of Iran as a new member in the organisation was welcomed by India as it will boost India’s interconnectivity drive in the Eurasian region.
While addressing the summit Prime Minister Narendra Modi has put forward the importance of transit routes like the Chabahar-Zahedan which will connect India with the CARs. The PM without taking the name took a jibe at Pakistan, who had always forbidden India in using its territory to reach Afghanistan for helping the war-torn country. The Prime minister had talks with many heads of states during the summit.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Mr. Ebrahim Raisi met for the first time since President Raisi’s assumption of office in 2021. Both the countries have shared historic and civilizational connections, including strong people to people contacts.
India has been indulged in various infrastructure building projects in Iran and hence the two leaders stressed on the importance of bilateral cooperation in the field of regional connectivity and also reviewed the progress in the development of the Shahid Beheshti terminal, Chabahar Port
The Afghanistan crisis was also discussed in the meeting, with India reiterating prioritising humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan and the need for a representative and inclusive political dispensation in support of a peaceful, stable and secure Afghanistan. Prime Minister Modi was also briefed about the status of the JCPOA negotiations by President Raisi.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi met the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Mr. Shavkat Mirziyoyev. This is a special year for both India and Uzbekistan as it marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.
The two leaders touched upon priority areas of bilateral cooperation, particularly trade, economic cooperation and connectivity. They stressed the need to make concerted efforts to diversify the trade basket and enter into long-term arrangements to promote trade and investment. Connectivity was considered key to unlock the potential in this regard, including greater usage of the Chabahar port and the International North South Transport Corridor.
Both the leaders were unanimous in their view that the territory of Afghanistan should not be used for terrorist activities.
Keeping the politics of Kashmir aside and to give a fresh start to the bilateral relations, PM Modi held talks with President Republic of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The unexpected meeting was a surprise for everyone as India’s relations with Turkey have been in turmoil especially after Turkey’s support to Islamabad on the abrogation of article 370 and 35 A from Jammu and Kashmir. The two leaders exchanged views on regional and global developments. Both leaders agreed to maintain regular contacts not just on bilateral issues, but also for the benefit of the region.
In the meeting with the Russian President Vladimir Putin, PM Modi put forward the issues of global food security, energy security and availability of fertilisers in the context of the challenges emanating from the current ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Prime Minister reiterated his call for an early cessation of hostilities and the need for dialogue and diplomacy in the ongoing war in Ukraine.
Cultural Links between India and the SCO members
In order to promote tourism, cultural and humanitarian exchanges between India and the SCO countries, the city of Varanasi has been nominated as the first-ever SCO Tourism and Cultural Capital during the period 2022-2023. It also underlines India’s ancient civilizational links with Member States of SCO, especially the Central Asian Republics.
The regulations for nomination of the SCO Tourism and Cultural Capital were adopted at the Dushanbe SCO Summit in 2021 with an objective of promoting cooperation between the SCO Member States in the field of culture and tourism.