External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday left for the Russian city of Sochi to attend the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a China-dominated security grouping which is increasingly seen as a counterweight to NATO.
The annual SCO summit will be held on November 30 and December 1 and it is likely to discuss issues relating to the regional security scenario including situation in the Gulf and Afghanistan
In June, India and Pakistan had become full-fledged members of the SCO.
“EAM @SushmaSwaraj leaves for Sochi, Russia to participate in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Council of Heads of Government Meeting home to 42 % of world’s population and 20% of its GDP. India became a full member of SCO on June 9, 2017,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had attended the SCO summit in June in Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan.
Last week, Kumar had said Swaraj will have bilateral meetings with several leaders on the sidelines of the summit.
Asked whether she will have bilateral meetings with the Pakistan Foreign Minister or call on Chinese premier Li Keqiang, Kumar had said her schedule is still being finalised.
“At this stage we cannot say anything,” he had said. Swaraj will return on December 2. As an SCO member, India is expected to have a bigger say in pressing for concerted action in dealing with terrorism as well as on issues relating to security and defence in the region.
India’s membership was strongly pushed by Russia while Pakistan’s entry into the grouping was backed by China.
India had been an observer at the SCO since 2005. It 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 had set the ball rolling to make India a member of the bloc during its summit in Ufa, Russia, in July 2015.
(With inputs from agencies)