Image Source : PTI Prime Minister Narendra Modi with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

New Delhi: The Ministry of External Affairs has confirmed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will skip the upcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SC) Summit in Kazakhstan on July 3-4 and that External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will lead the Indian delegation to the meeting where Russian President Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping are expected to attend.

“The Indian delegation at SCO will be led by the External affairs minister. This SCO summit is to be held between the 3rd and 4th July. So the External affairs minister will be leading our delegation there,” said External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal during his weekly press briefing in New Delhi on Thursday.

Earlier, multiple reports speculated that PM Modi would skip the SCO summit while the first parliamentary session of the new Lok Sabha is currently underway. Jaishankar was expected to represent India at the summit where Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif are likely to attend.

Last year, India virtually hosted the SCO Summit, where External Affairs Minister Jaishankar expressed concern over terrorism in the presence of then-Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto. Putin also thanked PM Modi for organising the summit and supported the New Delhi declaration on mutual cooperation to deal with terrorism, extremism and drug-trafficking.

What is the SCO?

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) was formed by China in 2001. Its members include India, Russia, China, Pakistan, and four central Asian countries – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India and Pakistan became its permanent members in 2017.

India was made an observer at the SCO in 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. The SCO is an influential economic and security bloc and has emerged as one of the largest transregional international organisations.

PM Modi’s visit to Russia

Shortly after the SCO meeting, PM Modi is expected to visit Russia, Russian media quoted a Kremlin aide as saying earlier this week. The Kremlin said in March that Modi had an open invitation to come to Russia and that a meeting with Putin would take place. Putin had personally extended an invitation to PM Modi during Jaishankar’s visit to Moscow last year.

If PM Modi travels to Russia, then he and President Vladimir Putin are set to hold the India-Russia annual summit after a gap of three years. The annual summit between the prime minister of India and the president of Russia is the highest institutional dialogue mechanism in the strategic partnership between the two countries. This would also be PM Modi’s first visit to Russia in five years.

(with inputs from agency)

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