SCO Summit Begins in Astana; Xi Jinping, Putin, Modi in Attendance
The summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will be held in Astana, Kazakhstan, June 8-9, with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Russian President Vladimir Putin in attendance, among heads of state of the other member nations, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. In the course of the summit, India and Pakistan will be formally admitted into the SCO.
India and Pakistan together represent 1.5 billion people, and with their addition, the SCO "will now represent the voice of three billion people—half the world's population," India's ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to the Republic of Kyrgyzstan, P. Stobdan, told Sputnik.
Leading into the summit, Xi Jinping was in Astana Wednesday for a state visit with his counterpart, Nursultan Nazarbayev, during which the two will discuss enhancing their bilateral economic, trade, cultural, and security cooperation.
In an opinion piece he penned for the Kazakh daily Aikyn Gazeti, published today under the headline "May China-Kazakhstan Relationship Fly High Toward Our Shared Aspirations," Xi recalled that it was in Kazakhstan that he first announced the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013. Since then, he pointed out, the project has developed into "an open and inclusive platform of cooperation and has become a global public good well received by the international community."
The Belt and Road Initiative, the Chinese President said, offers "unprecedented historic opportunities," and pointed to the success of May 14-15 Belt and Road summit in Beijing. He added that he will discuss with Nazarbayev joint cooperation in building the Belt and Road, to "synergize our development strategies...and work together to implement the outcomes of the Belt and Road Forum." Xi and Nazarbayev will also participate in a video event to discuss cross-border transportation and "promoting connectivity under the Belt and Road Initiative."
On the sidelines of the summit, Xi Jinping will meet with President Putin to discuss a wide range of matters related to regional and international issues, as well as their bilateral agenda. The situation on the Korean peninsula will be a key topic of discussion. India's Foreign Ministry has said that a meeting between Modi and Xi is "possible," but nothing has yet been confirmed.