New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will skip the first Summit-level Meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation to be held under India’s Chairmanship, since New Delhi gained full-membership of the organisation in 2017.
The Summits are held annually generally at the level of Prime Ministers of SCO and deal primarily with the trade and economic agenda of the organisation.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will also give the SCO Summit a miss and his country would be represented by the Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs.
Instead of PM Modi, now Vice President of India M. Venkaiah Naidu will Chair the 19th meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of Government to be hosted by India in virtual format on November 30, Monday.
PM Modi is likely to visit his constituency of Varanasi on November 30 to launch the Varanasi-Prayagraj highway project that will connect the Ganga-pilgrimage cities.
Pak Prime Minister Imran Khan had skipped the online meeting of leaders of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation hosted by India in March.
Imran's representative at that meeting in March triggered a row by raising the Kashmir issue.
"India considers the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) as an important regional organisation to promote cooperation in the areas of peace, security, trade, economy and culture. India is committed to widening our cooperation with SCO by playing a proactive, positive and constructive role in the organisation," an MEA statement said.
Sources said the SCO Summit of Heads of Government decides the strategies and priorities for trade and economic cooperation for the next year. Every annual meeting of SCO Heads of Government ends with a Joint Communique that contains the major proposals of Member States on issues of trade and economic cooperation.
This year, the November 30th Summit will end with the adoption of the Joint Communique under the Chairmanship of India. Apart from the Joint Communique, there will be other decisions on the approval of the budget of the organization and the Report on the implementation of the SCO Multilateral Trade and Economic Cooperation prepared by the SCO Secretariat, sources said.
During the course of our present Chairmanship of the SCO Council of Heads of Government in 2020, India has particularly focused on creating three new pillars of cooperation Startups and Innovation, Science and Technology and Traditional Medicine. Sources said, India has offered to create and Chair a new Special Working Group on Startups and Innovation and to set up an Expert Working Group on Cooperation in Traditional Medicine.
India assumed the Chairmanship of the SCO Council of Heads of Government on November 2, 2019 as per rotation from the previous Chair – Uzbekistan and will complete its year - long tenure on November 30, 2020 by hosting the 19th session of the SCO Council of Heads of Government (CHG).
The Prime Ministers from the SCO Member States of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan will attend the SCO meeting.
Apart from the SCO Member States, the four Observer States of SCO will also participate- including the President of Afghanistan, the First Vice President of Iran, the Prime Minister of Belarus and the Deputy Prime Minister of Mongolia. Turkmenistan has been invited as a Special Guest of the Host and will be represented by the Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers. The two bodies of SCO will be represented by the SCO Secretary General and the Executive Director of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS). The Chairmen of the SCO Business Council and the SCO Interbank Association will also be present.
In this year, India has also hosted the meeting of SCO Ministers responsible for External Economy and Foreign Trade on October 28 and the meeting of SCO Ministers for Justice on October 16 in the video-conference format, sources said.