Expansion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will be one of the key focus areas to be discussed at the grouping’s heads-of-state-summit which is going to take place in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.
The 21st summit level is taking place in a hybrid form for the first time ever on Friday (September 17) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lead the Indian delegation virtually and the external affairs minister Dr S Jaishankar has reached Dushanbe to participate in person.
All the members of SCO and Collective Security Treaty organisation (CSTO) which is an alliance of Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Russia will also have a meeting on Afghanistan.
The official spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Arindam Bagchi said “Prime Minister Modi will be addressing the SCO heads of state at around 11.30 am (IST) .”
His address will be soon after the welcome address by Tajik President Emomali Rahmon.
Main Agenda of the SCO
Sources have confirmed to Financial Express Online that on Friday, Sept 17, 2021, the member countries of SCO will also discuss multilateral economic cooperation, people to people exchanges and fallout of the global pandemic of COVID-19.
This is the 4th summit which India is participating after becoming a full fledged member state. This year’s summit is vital as SCO is celebrating its 20th anniversary of its foundation and the host country Tajikistan is commemorating its 30 years of its independence.
In 2020, due to global shutdown, India had chaired the 19th meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of Government (CHG) in virtual format.
For India the areas of interest in SCO this year the situation in Afghanistan, its impact on Central Asia, counter terrorism, economic cooperation and regional developments.
As has been reported by Financial Express Online, Iran has sought membership to the SCO. And it is expected that after completion of due SCO legal process Iran will get its full membership. Some Gulf countries are expected to dialogue or observer status.
On Friday, at the end of the summit meeting, before returning to India, the external affairs minister is expected to have bilateral meetings which will include meetings with his Tajik and Iranian counterparts.