India to become member of SCO

India to become member of SCO

India and Pakistan on Thursday moved closer to becoming members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the six-nation bloc, which is led by Russia and China and perceived as a counterweight to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato).

Foreign ministers of Russia, China and four other members of the SCO had a meeting in Moscow and recommended elevation of both India and Pakistan from ‘observers’ to ‘members’ of the organsation. The decision may lead to Prime Minister Narendra Modi attending the SCO summit at Ufa in Russia next month. This may even create an opportunity for Modi having a bilateral meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister M Nawaz Sharif on the sideline.

Sergey Lavrov, Foreign Minister of Russia, announced the decision after the meeting in Moscow. “We adopted recommendations paving the way for India and Pakistan accession to the SCO,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian government posted on Twitter quoting Lavrov on Thursday.

“Issues pertaining to the SCO expansion, based on the principle of openness, are of crucial importance for its future,” added the Russian foreign minister.

Modi will travel to Ufa in the second week of July to attend the BRICS (a bloc comprising Brazil, Russia, India, Russia and South Africa) summit, which will also take place in the capital city of Russian Republic of Bashkortostan.

The SCO summit will follow the meeting of the BRICS leaders at the same venue. Sources told Deccan Herald that prime minister might stay back and attend the SCO summit, as the bloc had now decided to grant membership to India.

Sharif is also likely to attend the SCO summit as Pakistan  is being granted membership of the bloc along with India.

The possibility of Modi and Sharif having a bilateral meeting on the sideline of the SCO summit in Ufa was discussed informally between officials of the neighbouring countries.

Officials in New Delhi, however, made it clear that any decision on such a meeting between the two leaders would be taken, only after assessing Islamabad’s response to India’s core concerns on terrorism emanating from Pakistan.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj last Sunday took a hard-line stand on restart of India-Pakistan parleys when she responded to questions from media persons last Sunday. She noted Islamabad’s failure to deliver on Sharif’s promise to Modi for speeding up the trial of the seven terror plotters, who had been arrested by Federal Investigation Agency of Pakistan for masterminding the November 26-28, 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai. She also expressed New Delhi’s disappointment over release of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba operative and key 26/11 plotter Zaki ur Rehman Lakhvi.
 The possibility of Modi and Sharif having a bilateral meeting on the sideline of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Ufa was discussed informally between officials of the neighbouring countries.

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