PM Narendra Modi held three bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the 19th summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic on Thursday. SCO is Prime Minister Modi’s first multilateral meeting after assuming office for the second time.
The first of the meetings was with Chinese President Xi Jinping, where both sides focused on how to take the ties forward. PM Modi took the opportunity to discuss the issue of Pakistan and appreciated China’s role in getting Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar designated.
Speaking to media after the meeting, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said, “There was a brief discussion on Pakistan. PM Modi recalled his efforts, which he said were derailed. PM Modi said that Pakistan needs to create atmosphere free of terror and at this stage we do not see this happening.” “We expect it to take concrete action,” Gokhale added.
“The major highlight was the fact that Sino-India relations can’t be looked at through the prism of Pakistan. Therefore, there is a need to take more confidence in building measures,” Gokhale said.
“PM noted what had improved between two sides is strategic communication and in that context, we have been able to resolve long pending issues like opening of Bank of China branch in India and issue related to the listing of Masood Azhar”, said Gokhale.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to reports in the Chinese media, pushed for closer development partnership between the both sides.
During the meeting, Xi Jinping congratulated PM Modi in person on his re-election as India’s prime minister. Earlier, he had sent a congratulatory note to the PM Modi just after his win.
Both sides emphasised on the need for cooperation in order to ensure peace, stability and prosperity in Asia and the wider world.
Xi Jinping has accepted India’s invitation to visit India for the second informal summit as a gesture of reciprocity to the Wuhan Informal Summit. Date and venue are yet to be firmed up.
Immediately after China, PM Narendra Modi held the second bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Both sides focused on the importance of the cooperation between the two sides. But, there was no specific discussion on S-400 missile defense system, confirmed Gokhale.
India and Russia signed a $ 5 billion S-400 air defense system deal in October last year. But the deal could result in US sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) instituted by the US Congress on arms purchases from Russia.
India is being cautious about the deal for now, since PM Modi is slated to meet President Donald Trump at the end of this month in Osaka, Japan, on the sidelines of the G-20 summit.
PM Modi thanked Vladimir Putin for the “support for the rifle manufacturing unit in Amethi”.
Foreign Secretary Gokhale confirmed that PM Modi will attend the Eastern Economic Forum, which will be held in Vladivostok in September this year. 27 meetings have taken place between PM Modi and Vladimir Putin since 2014 of which 13 were bilateral meetings and 14 were part of multilateral meetings.
The two sides will meet on the sidelines of future multilateral meetings as well. India has begun engagement with Russia on Arctic oil and gas.
“There would be the Russia-India-China trilateral on the margins of the G-20 summit”, said Gokhale.
Finally, late at night, after dinner and the gala concert hosted by the President of Kyrgyz Republic, Prime Minister exchanged views on the situation in Afghanistan. Issue of security was discussed. The role played by India towards an inclusive Afghanistan was also taken in account.
According to the sources, most of the talking was done by the Afghan president. PM Modi wanted to know about the current prevailing situation in Afghanistan.
Ashraf Ghani spoke for the first 15 minutes.
President Ghani said that India needs to see terrorism and drugs through a single prism. “One is fueling the other he said according to sources,” Ghani said.
As the two sides discussed Pakistan, the Afghan side raised questions on the sincerity of Pakistan in fighting terrorism in Afghanistan and how serious Islamabad has been in taking action against certain groups active in their country.
Approach of US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in the Afghan reconciliation process and Taliban talks also came up during the meeting.
PM Modi highlighted the importance of cooperation as he gave the example of Bangladesh and the ties it has with India.
Sources said that India has conveyed to Afghanistan that all their expectations would be fulfilled. India will help Kabul in the path for a democratic government and will support Afghanistan to have a legitimate government through a democratic process.