NEW DELHI: At a time when relations with China and Pakistan remain in freefall, PM Narendra Modi will find himself in the company of President Xi Jinping and PM Imran Khan at the SCO summit which Russia will host virtually, as Indian officials confirmed, on November 10.
As reported earlier, Modi and Xi will also come face-to-face at the Brics virtual summit on November 17. Because of the vastness and complexity of the SCO agenda, Russia was keen to have a physical summit of the Eurasian group but, like with Brics, that proposal was scuttled by the Covid-19 threat.
With its focus on security and other political issues, SCO is a lot more important forum for India to underscore its concerns on issues like terrorism and the need for all to respect sovereignty and regional integrity in any connectivity initiative. The November 10 summit will also for the first time see Modi and Xi together since the ongoing India-China military standoff was first reported in May.
The fact that the summit this year has been reduced to a virtual meeting precludes the possibility of a bilateral meeting between Modi and Xi.
With Khan also present, sources said Modi is likely to again forcefully spell out India’s concerns over cross-border terrorism. India itself has to host a meeting of the SCO heads of government in late November. While the government has already said it will invite Khan for the meeting, it is yet to decide if the meeting will be held physically.