Narendra Modi, Xi Jinping likely to hold talks at SCO summit today
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New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the regional Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Kazakhstan this week in a bid to stabilize ties upset by growing disagreements between the Asian giants.
The meeting could take place on Friday, two people familiar with the developments said. It is among a series of interactions expected between the two leaders this year.
Modi is also expected to visit China this year for the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (Brics) meeting later this year. The two leaders are also going to be present at the Group of 20 developed and developing countries meeting in Hamburg in July.
Modi is leading the Indian delegation to the SCO summit on 8-9 June in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. The summit is being seen as key for India as it is to be formally admitted into the China-dominated six-nation grouping along with arch rival Pakistan.
Till now China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan were counted as full members of the SCO with Afghanistan, Belarus, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan having observer status.
The Modi-Xi meeting comes amid growing differences between the two countries over a host of issues, including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Chinese objections to India becoming a member of the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). The NSG is expected to meet later this month.
Last month, India declined an invitation to a summit of the Belt and Road (BRI) infrastructure initiative hosted by Beijing. India’s objection was mainly due to the fact that one strand of the BRI—the CPEC—cuts through Gilgit and Baltistan that India says is illegally occupied by Pakistan and hence the BRI violates India’s sovereignty.
India has also been upset by China’s trenchant opposition to India joining the NSG. China says that since India is not a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, it cannot become a member of the NSG, which sets the rules for global nuclear commerce. The group admits members by consensus which means India needs Chinese support to enter the grouping. India was granted an NSG waiver in 2008 that allows it to engage in nuclear commerce, but deprives it of a vote in the organization’s decision making.
On Monday, Li Huilai, China’s assistant minister of foreign affairs said: “About the Nuclear Suppliers Group, it is a new issue under the new circumstances and it is more complicated than previously imagined,” according to a PTI report. Li did not elaborate on what the “new circumstances” were, the report said.
Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj said on Monday that India had asked countries friendly with China to convince it on the issue of allowing the country into the grouping based on credentials.
“We have always engaged with China and we are doing it for NSG as well. And (it is being done) not only by us, but even nations friendly to us as well as enjoying good relations with China, who feel that India should get an NSG membership,” Swaraj said.
India and China also have differences over Chinese attempts to block India’s efforts to get Pakistan-based terrorist Maulana Masood Azhar included in a UN proscribed list of international terrorists.