Regional security, terrorism in focus as India chairs SCO summit

New Delhi, Jul 3 (EFE).- India is set to chair its first-ever summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on Tuesday, where leaders of the alliance’s member nations will discuss the main regional security challenges and counter-terrorism efforts.

The virtual meeting, which will particularly focus on security and terrorism challenges in Central Asia, will be attended by the eight SCO member countries including Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

The leaders of the forum in the bloc’s 23rd summit will discuss current international and regional issues.

The leaders are also expected to formally approve Iran’s full membership of SCO and kick off procedures for the membership of Belarus.

The two countries will attend Tuesday’s summit as observers.

The summit will be especially important for Russia to seek the support of allied countries amid its ongoing war against Ukraine, particularly after last month’s short-lived mutiny led by the head of private military contractor Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin.

”The meeting will be about showcasing how Russia remains engaged in Central Asia and with Central Asia’s neighbors and engaged for seeking stability in the region,” the head of the Strategic Studies Program at the think-thank Observer Research Foundation (ORF), Harsh V. Pant told EFE.

He said the summit is also a good opportunity for China and India as two rival regional countries, to discuss their differences.

“China and India have their own interests in how they want to engage with Russia on the security of the region.”

Despite continued pressure from the West, both China and India had remained neutral and stopped shot of condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

In last year’s SCO summit, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to try and end the conflict in Ukraine as soon as possible.

India’s ties also remain tense with neighboring Pakistan.

Both nuclear powers have maintained minimal contact, and refused to hold direct bilateral talks due to a decades-old conflict, fueled by their dispute over Kashmir and trans-border terrorism.

“India’s ties with both China and with Pakistan are not very healthy and there are serious differences and I think those differences will remain,” Pant added.

However, “the aim of this meeting or the theme of the platform is to sort out those differences,” the expert noted.

India in 2017 joined the SCO, an entity focused on political, economic, security and defense issues.

Apart from the eight member states, the bloc currently has four observers – Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia – and six dialogue partners – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey.

Established in 2001, the SCO has a special focus on regional security, the fight against terrorism in the region, ethnic separatism and religious extremism. EFE


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