In some straight talk with Russian president Vladimir Putin, Narendra Modi told him “this isn’t the era of war”, while also underlining the significance of "democracy, dialogue and diplomacy".
Meeting the Russian president on the sidelines of the SCO Summit in Uzbekistan’s Samarkand, the PM Modi also urged him to take the initiative in addressing, as he put it, some of the biggest problems the world is facing in the form of food, fuel and fertiliser scarcity.
Modi’s remarks, delivered in his first in-person meeting with Putin since Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine, are expected to assuage the feeling in the West that India has aligned itself with Moscow on the Ukraine issue by not condemning Moscow and increasing its crude and other imports from Russia. India has always maintained that one of the pillars of its position on Ukraine has been its initiative to remain in touch with both sides to promote dialogue and diplomacy and bring the hostilities to an early end.
Putin, who spoke before Modi, acknowledged India’s position on Ukraine and said Russia will do its best to stop the conflict as soon as possible. Putin added though it was Ukraine which had refused to continue negotiations and declared it wanted to achieve its goals by military means.
List of terrorists, terror outfits
In a decision that meant to counter the menace of terrorism, the member-states, in accordance with their national legislation and based on consensus, decided to develop “common principles and approaches’’ to form a unified list of terrorist, separatist and extremist organisations whose activities are prohibited on the territories of the SCO countries.
Referring to the announcement, which was made in the Samarkand Declaration, foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra said each of the member-states was clear in recognising the threat posed by terrorism to the region. Like in the past, India was again the only country to not endorse China’s BRI initiative in the declaration.
In his intervention in the restricted session of the summit, PM Modi also sought greater cooperation among the SCO countries to deal with terrorism and stressed the role that SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) can play in this. India has not allowed its differences with Pakistan to come in the way of cooperation with SCO countries on the issue of terrorism.
PM Modi calls for better supply chains
PM Modi called for deepening cooperation and mutual trust among SCO member-states at the summit, urging the Eurasian security group to work together to develop reliable, resilient, and diversified supply chains in the region at a time when the pandemic and Ukraine conflict had caused an “unprecedented food and energy crisis’’.
Addressing the summit, PM Modi said these efforts will require better connectivity and, in remarks aimed at Pakistan, called upon all SCO countries to give each other “full right to transit”.
Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif responded saying “if we move towards a more structured connectivity, transit rights will automatically come’’. Pakistan doesn’t allow India access to Afghanistan and Central Asia but agreed last year, under pressure from the Taliban government in Kabul, to India’s proposal for delivery of 50,000 MT of Indian wheat to Afghanistan by the land route.