SCO summit 2017 to begin today, India and Pakistan set to become full members
Narendra Modi is expected to hold bilateral talks with a number of SCO member countries including China's President Xi Jinping. Photograph: (Reuters)
India is set to become a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) even as its arch-rival Pakistan will be gaining entry into the security grouping as well.
The ties between India and Pakistan have been in a free fall since the Pathankot air base attack in January 2016.
There are speculations that the two prime ministers might hold an informal interaction during the two-day summit but there is no official word on it.
"There was neither any request from their side nor any such proposal from our side," MEA spokesperson Gopal Baglay said on the possibility of the two prime ministers meeting at Astana during the two-day summit, reported Economic Times.
The process to make both the countries a full member of the inter-governmental bloc was started last year when they signed the memorandum of obligations on 24 June 2016 at Tashkent.
Briefing media in Delhi last evening, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Gopal Baglay said, "India will be benefited in trade and economic activity after it becomes a full member. He said that trade, connectivity, energy, banking and fight against terrorism are the main areas of cooperation."
Joint Secretary, Eurasia, G V Srinivas said, "India is joining SCO with an open mind for peace and stability in the region. Strengthening mutual trust and neighbourliness, promoting cooperation in politics, trade, economy, research, technology and culture and other areas are the main goals of SCO."
"So that process has been completed from our side - essentially entailing to a couple of agreements as per the calendar drawn by the memorandum of obligations - something which we have relayed to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation secretariat in Beijing. They have also confirmed that India has completed this process," Srinivas said.
"The indications are that the last leg of the entire membership process that is the confirmation by the heads of state of existing members of the SCO, is going to happen in Astana," he added.
Narendra Modi is expected to hold bilateral talks with a number of SCO member countries including China's President Xi Jinping.
He will also meet Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev to promote ties in the fields of trade and commerce, education, tourism and other sectors, ANI reported.
Kazakhstan is India's largest trading partner in Central Asia and the total trade volume between the two countries rose from 120 million US dollars to around 900 million dollars in recent years, according to ANI.
(WION with inputs from agencies)