QINGDAO: Top leaders of India, Russia, and China and some of their close allies will converge here on Saturday for the annual Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit which will explore concrete ways to bolster cooperation in the fight against terrorism, extremism and radicalisation besides deliberating on pressing global issues.
In his address at the two-day SCO summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to articulate India's position on dealing with major challenges facing the world including ways to tackle terrorism, and boosting trade and investment in the region.
The summit in this eastern Chinese port city is taking place under the shadow of Washington's pullout from the Iran nuclear deal, its sanctions regime against Russia, and frictions with China over the trade tariffs. Diplomats from several member countries said all these issues may figure at the summit as well as during deliberations on its sidelines.
In the wake of Washington's strained ties with both Russia and China and Iran, officials said the SCO summit will provide an opportunity for President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to portray a common vision for the region and present the bloc as a powerful voice to deal with pressing global issues.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is also scheduled to attend the summit which will give leaders of India, Russia, China and other central Asian countries a chance to deliberate on the Iran nuclear deal. The US had pulled out of the deal last month, triggering sharp reactions from across the globe.
The SCO leaders are meeting ahead of a much-awaited summit next week between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore, and the situation in the Korean peninsula may also figure at the meeting here, officials said on condition of anonymity.
India became a full member of the China-dominated grouping last year and New Delhi's entry into it is expected to increase the bloc's heft in regional geopolitics and trade negotiations besides giving it a pan-Asian hue.
Hours after his arrival in this port city, Modi is scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting with Xi during which the two leaders are expected to explore ways to deepen ties in areas of trade and investment besides reviewing the overall bilateral cooperation.
The meeting is taking place weeks after the two leaders held an informal summit in the central Chinese city of Wuhan during which they exchanged views on solidifying the relationship between the two Asian powers.
In tomorrow's meeting, Modi and Xi are likely to take stock of progress in the implementation of decisions they had taken at the informal summit.
About the SCO summit, officials said India will pitch for evolving effective ways to deal with the growing challenge of terrorism and enhancing security cooperation among SCO countries.
India is also keen on deepening its security-related cooperation with the SCO and its Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS) which specifically deals with issues relating to security and defence.
India was an observer at the SCO since 2005 and has generally participated in the ministerial-level meetings of the grouping which focus mainly on security and economic cooperation in the Eurasian region. Along with India, Pakistan was also granted membership of the SCO last year.
The officials said India is also likely to focus on the importance of regional connectivity projects to boost trade among members of the SCO countries.
India has been strongly pushing for connectivity projects like the Chabahar port project and International North-South Transport Corridor to gain access to resource-rich Central Asian countries.
Sources indicated that India's focus would be to include its concerns over cross-border terrorism in the final outcome document of the summit.
India has been raising the issue of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in various multilateral forums with an aim to build pressure on Islamabad to dismantle the terror infrastructure operating from that country.
Modi is expected to hold nearly half a dozen bilateral meetings with leaders of other SCO countries. However, there is no official word on whether there will be any interaction between Modi and Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain, who is scheduled to attend the meeting in China.
The SCO was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the presidents of Russia, China, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.