India to host SCO heads of governments meeting

India will on Monday host Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) heads of governments virtually. The virtual meet will see participation of 7 Prime Ministers — 6 from the member states of SCO (Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan) and one from observer member of Belarus.

SCO has 8 member states and 4 observer states. Pakistan, which is a member of SCO will be represented by its Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is giving the meet a miss.

The other three observer states will be represented too. Afghanistan will be represented by its President Ashraf Ghani, Iran by its First Vice President and Mongolia by its Deputy Prime Minister.

A statement from India’s Ministry of External Affairs said,”‚ÄčIndia considers the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as an important regional organization 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 organization.”

India has invited Turkmenistan as a special guest. The country and will be represented by the Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers. SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov, Executive Director of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS), Chairmen of the SCO Business Council and the SCO Interbank Association will also be present.

The challenge of COVID-19 pandemic, shared Buddhist connect will be the top focus of India at the meet.

On that day itself, first-ever SCO Digital Exhibition on Shared Buddhist Heritage by the National Museum will be inaugurated.

This is the first time India is hosting such a meeting of the SCO, with India’s Vice President Venkaiah Naidu chairing it. The year 2020 marks 15-years of India’s formal association with SCO began. New Delhi became a full member of the Beijing headquartered grouping in 2017. Earlier, India had the status of an observer.

The 30 November summit will end with the adoption of the joint communique that will contain major proposals from member states on issues of trade and economic cooperation under the chairmanship of India. The SCO summit of Heads of Governments also decides the strategies and priorities for trade and economic cooperation for the next year.

Earlier this year, India hosted virtual meetings of the SCO ministers responsible for external economy and foreign trade and SCO Ministers for Justice.

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