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PM Modi lands in Uzbekistan, to meet Putin tomorrow

New Delhi: Trade and geopolitics will be on the agenda when Prime Minister Narendra Modi holds a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a regional summit in Uzbekistan’s Samarkand on Friday.

Mr Putin and PM Modi will attend the two-day 22nd meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) that begins on Thursday.

This is the first in-person summit of the bloc in two years, shaking off the Covid fears and providing a rare opportunity for all its eight heads of state to meet on the sidelines of the event to have face-to-face talks on pressing global and regional issues of common concern.

“Russian President Putin is going to participate in the forthcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit. PM Modi is also going. We’ve already announced that there will be a number of meetings in Samarkand, including with PM Modi,” Russian Ambassador to India Denis Alipov said told.

Earlier, the official Russian news agency TASS had quoted Presidential Aide Yuri Ushakov as saying, “A conversation on the international agenda with Modi will also take place, the sides will discuss issues of strategic stability, the situation in the Asia Pacific Region, and, of course, cooperation within major multilateral formats, such as the UN, the G20 and the SCO.”

“This is particularly important, because India will preside in the UN Security Council in December, and, in 2023, India will lead the SCO and will also chair the G20,” Mr Ushakov told reporters on Tuesday.

The two leaders had spoken to each other in July and reviewed the implementation of the decisions taken during President Putin’s visit to India in December 2021. Before that, PM Modi and Mr Putin talked over the phone on February 24 after Russia attacked Ukraine.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi left for Samarkand on Thursday, tweeting, “Leaving for Samarkand, Uzbekistan to attend the SCO Summit, which will witness the exchange of views on a wide range of regional and global issues.”

In his pre-departure statement, PM Modi said he was looking forward to exchanging views on topical regional and international issues, as well as on expansion and further deepening of multifaceted and mutually beneficial cooperation within the grouping.

The Beijing-headquartered SCO is an eight-member economic and security bloc consisting of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan.

The first in-person SCO summit since 2019 will be watched closely for the possibility of bilateral meetings on the sidelines with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Putin, and Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif among the leaders expected to attend.