India, Pakistan Join Shanghai Cooperation Organization

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Prime Minister Modi and Xi are here in the Kazakh capital to attend the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). Given the fact that major focus of SCO has been on promoting regional security and tackling effectively the menace of terrorism through coordinated efforts, its decision to embrace Pakistan highlights the realization that Pakistan is part of the solution and not part of the problem.

The expansion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) carries historic significance as India and Pakistan become full members of the bloc, SCO leaders said on Friday.

"Connectivity with SCO member countries is a priority for India and we whole-heartedly support it".

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Prime Minister Modi also held bilateral meetings with other leaders including Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev.

The remarks by the Prime Minister are assumed significant as recently India boycotted Belt and Road Forum held in Beijing where more than 29 world leaders were participants.

"The sense of the meeting was that the two countries have great benefit, great interest in working with each other and we will have differences". He said besides connectivity, it is also important to ensure inclusivity and sustainability.

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He was asked about the various areas of differences between the two countries including India's reservations on OBOR, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) forming part of it and Beijing's opposition to India's membership of the NSG and United Nations sanctions on Pakistan-based terrorist Masood Azhar.

Many fear that India and Pakistan might not be able to work together, and the SCO might face the same problems as SAARC did - with two regional powers not cooperating, there is always a fear that working together might not be achievable. India and Pakistan were admitted to the SCO group as observers in 2005 and began the administrative process of joining the organisation in 2015. "There were a number of security and defence issues including counter terrorism cooperation, security cooperation, defence exchange also", said Jaishankar.

Nursultan Nazarbayev, the President of Kazakhstan was among the officials Zarif met with in Astana.

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Mr Xi also congratulated India on becoming an official member state of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) security bloc, jointly led by Russian Federation and China. The Times of India reported that they are expected to meet again in early July at the G20 meeting in Hamburg, and at the September 2017 BRICS summit in Xiamen, China.

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