India to host SCO heads of Government meeting for the first time


NEW DELHI, Jan 13: For the first time, India will host the annual meeting of council of heads of government of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization later this year, the grouping's Secretary General Vladimir Norov said on Monday.
Norov, who arrived here on Sunday on a four-day trip, made the announcement on the sidelines of an event. Earlier, he held talks with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on a range of issues.
"Received Secretary General #Shanghai Cooperation Organization Vladimir Norov. Reviewed the progress in our cooperation as India prepares to take up the responsibility of chairing the Council of #SCO Heads of Government," Jaishankar tweeted.
India became a full member of the the China-dominated grouping in 2017 and New Delhi's entry into it increased the bloc's heft in regional geo-politics, besides giving it a pan-Asian hue.
Usually, the heads of government meeting of the SCO is represented by foreign ministers while a number of countries send their prime ministers also.
India has always been represented by the external affairs minister in the heads of government meeting while the SCO heads of state summit is attended by the prime minister.
Pakistan is a member of the SCO and it will be interesting to see who represents the country in the meeting in India. Norov said all member countries are very glad that India is hosting the SCO heads of government meeting later this year.
India is an important country in the region and has huge potential for fuelling economic growth in the region, he said. He said the event will be preceded by a number of meetings in India including the meeting of the SCO ministers of economic activities.
India is keen on deepening its security-related cooperation with the SCO and its Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS) which specifically deals with issues relating to security and defence.
India was an observer at the SCO since 2005 and has generally participated in the ministerial-level meetings of the grouping which focus mainly on security and economic cooperation in the Eurasian region.
Along with India, Pakistan was also granted membership of SCO in 2017.
The SCO was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the presidents of Russia, China, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India and Pakistan became its members last year.
The Prime Minister has stated that he looks forward to participating in the Summits of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the BRICS countries in Russia this year, and welcoming President Putin in India for the 21st bilateral Annual Summit.
Norov also spoke at a think tank on evolving situation in the region and how important India's role has been to regional peace and stability. He said it was important to involve Afghanistan in the SCO transport corridor which will help the country's economy.
Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swarup said pan-Asian cooperation should be built with due respect to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of member countries.
"India and SCO member states share the similar objective of developing multi modal transport and transit routes effectively within markets of Central Asia to South Asia, South East Asia and Europe to boost intra regional trade and investment.
"The need of the hour therefore is to build pan-Asian cooperation but with due respect to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of SCO member states," he said.
The SCO sees itself as having high economic potential as 40 per cent of the world population lives in its countries, which produce an aggregate GDP of more than USD 18 trillion, which is more than the 22 per cent of the global GDP and by 2025 and it is expected to reach 38-40 per cent.

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