Modi’s late arrival allowed him to skip a welcome dinner hosted by Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev where he would have been joined by, among others, leaders of China and Pakistan, 2 countries with which India’s ties remain strained. Official sources didn’t confirm if this was deliberate but said Modi’s participation in the summit will be a brief and low-key affair. Modi landed in Samarkand around 9 pm and is not expected to spend more than 24 hours there. As it turned out, Xi too didn’t turn up for the dinner even though he was in Samarkand.
While he will have bilateral meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mirziyoyev and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra neither confirmed nor denied a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. A structured bilateral meeting with Xi seemed difficult though with PM’s schedule packed till 5-6 pm on Friday with SCO and announced bilateral meetings.
Modi and Xi will be together on Friday in 2 SCO meetings – a restricted session for member-states and another extended one with Observers and others invited – and also join a lunch for participating leaders.
“Under the Uzbek Chairship, a number of decisions for mutual cooperation are likely to be adopted in areas of trade, economy, culture and tourism,” said Modi in his statement.
Ahead of the big meeting with Putin, when asked whether or not India will consider joining the proposed G7 price cap on Russian oil, Kwatra said India is not a member of the G7, and that when the Indian entities go out and try to respond to India’s needs of the energy security and procure oil, they essentially procure it from the market.
“These are not government to government purchases that we do. On the price cap coalition well, what form it takes, what shape it evolves into is something, I think which the people, the countries that have floated that idea, perhaps can better answer to that,” said the foreign secretary, indicating again that India is not convinced price cap is a great idea.
Kwatra also said PM’s participation in the summit was a reflection of the importance that India attaches to the SCO and its goals.
“We expect that the discussions during the summit would cover topical regional and international issues; reform and expansion of SCO; the security situation in the region; our cooperation perspective in the region including strengthening connectivity as well as boosting trade and tourism in the region,” said Kwatra. PM is expected to address issues like regional security, especially in the context of Afghanistan, and connectivity and trade.