PM Modi calls for respect for sovereignty, economic growth, connectivity, and unity among SCO countries

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today called for respect for sovereignty, economic growth, connectivity and unity among the members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

In his address at the Plenary session of the 18th SCO summit here, Modi coined an acronym ‘SECURE’ which he explained: S’ for security for citizens, E’ for economic development, C’ for connectivity in the region, U’ for unity, R’ for respect of sovereignty and integrity, E’ for environment protection.

Talking about the importance of linking the region with transport corridors, Modi said connectivity does not only mean geographical link but it should ensure people-to-people contact.

“India welcomes any such project which is inclusive, sustainable and transparent. And which respects member states’ sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Modi said, in a veiled dig at China’s ‘One Belt One Road’ (OBOR) project.

India has been stridently opposing the project as a part of it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

The Prime Minister said connectivity was key to economic development of the region.

“We have again reached a stage where physical and digital connectivity is changing the definition of geography. Therefore, connectivity with our neighbourhood and in the SCO region is our priority,” Modi said.

Modi said India would like to extend all cooperation to the SCO and that the bloc gives India immense opportunities to enhance friendship with resource-rich Central Asian nations.

Referring to challenges of terrorism, Modi said Afghanistan is an “unfortunate example” of the effects of terrorism and extremism.

“I hope the bold steps towards peace taken by President Ghani will be respected by all in the region,” he said, referring to a ceasefire announced by the Afghan leader for Eid.

In his address, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced offering a 30 billion yuan (USD 4.7 billion) loan to SCO for joint projects.

Noting that only 6 per cent of foreign tourists in India are from SCO countries, Prime Minister Modi said this can easily be doubled.

“Increasing awareness of our shared cultures can help boost this number. We will organise a SCO food festival and a Buddhist festival in India,” he said.

The Prime Minister arrived here yesterday on a two-day visit to attend the SCO summit.

It is Modi’s second visit to China in little over five weeks after he travelled to Wuhan in April end for an informal summit with President Xi.

It is for the first time the Indian prime minister attended the SCO summit after India along with Pakistan became full-fledged members of the grouping, jointly dominated by China and Russia, which has been increasingly seen as a counter to NATO.

The SCO currently has eight member countries which represents around 42 per cent of the world’s population and 20 per cent of the global GDP.

The bloc was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the presidents of Russia, China, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India and Pakistan became its members last year.

Besides Modi, other leaders attending the summit include President Xi, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain.

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