Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday met his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif at a cultural gala held in Kazakhstan Capital Astana where the leaders are attending the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit. This is the first time that Modi and Sharif have met since December 2015 when the Indian PM made a sudden stopover in Lahore.
In its first-ever expansion, the SCO will grant permanent membership to both India and Pakistan and may also induct Iran, reported PTI. Currently, India, Iran and Pakistan are observers, a role granted to the three countries at the 2005 Astana Summit. The SCO was founded in Shanghai in 2001 by then presidents of Russia, China, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. While Russia had been backing India’s membership, China pushed for Pakistan’s induction.
During the summit, prominent leaders like Modi, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jingping are expected to highlight the menace of growing militancy and discuss ways to combat it. The summit comes at a time when there has been a series of terror strikes in several countries, including London and Afghanistan. Modi is likely to bat for a concerted global action plan, according to PTI. Apart from militancy, the leaders are expected to discuss ways to boost trade.
Menwhile, Modi will be meeting the Chinese president on the sidelines of the SCO Summit. Modi is likely to raise the issue of India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group and discuss the upcoming China-Pakistan Economic Corridor that India strongly opposes. “A major breakthrough might not happen but both sides will look for the right signal,” Vivek Katju, former MEA Secretary, told News18.
The two are also likely to talk about the fallout of US President Donald Trump’s decision to exit the Paris Agreement on climate change. Modi may also seek support to designate Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a terrorist in the United Nations.