India’s SCO membership unlikely during Tashkent summit

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 20, 2018 Published on June 22, 2016

Narendra Modi

Modi set to meet Xi Jinping, Putin

India is unlikely to become a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) officially during its annual meeting in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on June 23.

“In this summit, the process of India’s accession to the SCO will start with a signature on the base document, called the memorandum of obligations … There a schedule is laid down for us to sign up the other documents that India needs to accede to. That will happen as the year goes by,” Sujata Mehta, Secretary (West), Ministry of External Affairs, said on Wednesday.

Mehta said since the last SCO summit in Ufa, Russia, India had been in touch with the grouping to sign up all the documents required to be ratified before it can be granted official membership, adding that to be an SCO member, India needs to sign over 30 documents, apart from the main memorandum of obligations.

The present chair of SCO is Uzbekistan. The decision to induct India as SCO member was taken in Ufa, Russia last year.

“We have to commit to align our processes with what has been agreed by other member countries. We need to work out what we need to do … As far as India’s pace of accession at the SCO being a function of Russia, China and the four countries of Central Asia, I would say we see ourselves as following fairly flexible multilateralism. So, we are quite happy to engage in multiple processes. We have been working with other members of SCO on several other fields,” Mehta said.

She said there are talks of a specific SCO energy club emerging, adding that India will become a part of the regional cooperation on terrorism.

India’s association with SCO began in 2005, when it was inducted into it as an observer. However, India has been eyeing its membership since 2010, when the moratorium on new members was lifted. It had put in its application in 2014 when SCO started inviting them from new members.

The grouping was formed in 2001 with a view to having a common regional agenda between the Eurasian countries on matters related to terrorism and security. At present, SCO has six members — China, Russian, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Pakistan and Iran are also waiting for official membership.

NSG Meet in Seoul

The SCO summit is happening at the same time when the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) will be meeting in Seoul.

As a result, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be holding meetings with the Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin to lobby for India’s NSG membership.

“Yes he (Modi) will be meeting the Chinese President, the Russian President and couple of others as well … It is really a coincidence that the NSG meeting is happening on the same days as the SCO summit,” Mehta said.

However, she did not confirm whether Modi will also be meeting his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Tashkent. The Prime Minister will be back on June 24.

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Published on June 22, 2016
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