SCO MEETING IN INDIA: Asian nations focus on a multipolar world


Dr S. Jaishankar during their bilateral talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines SCO Foreign Ministers' meeting, in Goa, on Thursday (ANI Photo/Jitender Gupta)

With the foreign ministers of China, Russia, Pakistan and other members of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting in Goa, the focus shifts to cooperation between Asian countries. Is a new world order emerging?

Our Bureau
Panjim (Goa)

India hosted a cultural event on Thursday evening, ahead of the main meeting in Goa for its Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) counterparts, which displayed a fusion of dance between Central Asian countries, South Asian countries including India and Pakistan, along with Russia and China. The participants also performed the Indian classical dance forms and popular film songs, including the Oscar-winning track ‘Natu Natu’.

The theme for India’s chairmanship of SCO in 2023 is ‘Secure-SCO’. New Delhi attaches special importance to SCO in promoting multilateral, political, security, economic and people-to-people interactions in the region. Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is an intergovernmental organization established in 2001. India took over the rotating presidency of the SCO at the summit held in Samarkand in 2022.

India’s SCO counterparts — China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan foreign ministers — arrived in Goa on Thursday. Earlier in the day, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar held talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Chinese FM Qin Gang and later with Uzbek foreign minister Bakhtiyor Saidov.

Jaishankar and his Russian counterpart held talks on the sidelines of the SCO Foreign Ministers’ meeting and reviewed bilateral, global and multilateral cooperation between the two countries. The two leaders also discussed issues pertaining to G20 and BRICS.

Russian Foreign Ministry said in the statement that the two sides agreed to continue following “the course of building a fair multipolar system of interstate relations”. It said the ministers appreciated the dynamics of cooperation in key areas of the especially privileged strategic partnership between the two countries. “The intention was confirmed to strengthen coordination activities to develop common approaches within the framework of interaction at the most important international platforms, including the SCO, BRICS, the UN and the G20,” the statement said.

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang during bilateral talks with Dr S. Jaishankar in Goa on Thursday (ANI Photo/Jitender Gupta)

It said that a confidential exchange of views took place on the main issues of bilateral relations, including the schedule of upcoming contacts, as well as topical issues on the global and regional agenda.

Russian Foreign Minister arrived at Goa’s Dabolim airport this morning. This is his second visit to India this year. He had attended the G20 Foreign Ministers’ meeting in New Delhi this March.

During his Goa visit, Lavrov is expected to have several bilateral meetings with his counterparts from other SCO countries. The agenda of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Foreign Ministers meeting in Goa includes preparation for the meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of State, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

The agenda includes the issue of SCO granting member status to Iran and the possible acceleration of Belarus joining the group and granting the status of SCO Dialogue partners to Bahrain, Kuwait, Myanmar, Maldives and the United Arab Emirates, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

It said the agenda of the SCO Foreign Ministers meeting in Goa includes coordinating foreign policies to promote the role of the United Nations in ensuring “credible global security and sustainable economic growth.”

Later, the bilateral meeting of External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar with his Chinese counterpart, Qin Gang, concluded on Thursday. The discussions focused on resolving outstanding issues and ensuring “peace and tranquility” in the border areas.

The two foreign ministers held detailed discussions, on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) FM meet, revolving around SCO, G20 and BRICS, said EAM Jaishankar. After commencing bilateral talks with both his Russian and Chinese counterparts, Jaishankar tweeted, “A detailed discussion with State Councilor and FM Qin Gang of China on our bilateral relationship. Focus remains on resolving outstanding issues and ensuring peace and tranquility in the border area. Also discussed SCO, G20 and BRICS.”

Earlier, the Chinese Foreign Minister arrived at Goa airport to attend the two-day-long meeting of foreign ministers of the member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) which began in the coastal State.

This is the second time that the Chinese Foreign Minister is in India this year.

He was in New Delhi in March for the G20 Foreign Ministers’ meeting.

On its Foreign Minister’s visit to India, the spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign ministry said on Tuesday (this week) that at the meeting Qin Gang will exchange views with other SCO member states’ foreign ministers on the international and regional situation.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari lands at Goa’s Dabolim to attend SCO meeting on Thursday (ANI)

The Chinese spokesperson said, “At the meeting, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang will exchange views with other SCO member states’ foreign ministers on the international and regional situation and SCO cooperation in various fields, among other topics, to make full preparation for this year’s SCO summit.”

The bilateral ties between India and China strained in the wake of the Galwan Valley clash. The two countries held several rounds of military and diplomatic talks for disengagement along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, following the standoff with Chinese troops in May 2020.

Also on Thursday, S Jaishankar held a bilateral meeting with the Secretary General of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Zhang Ming in Goa and appreciated his “support for India’s SCO Presidency”. This comes as the two-day-long meeting of Foreign Ministers of SCO member states began in Goa on Thursday. Describing his interaction with Zhang Ming as “productive” now, the EAM said that Indian Presidency is driven by a “commitment to Secure SCO”.

“Started my meetings at SCO CFM with a productive interaction with Secretary General Zhang Ming. Appreciate his support for India’s SCO Presidency. Indian presidency is driven by a commitment to SECURE SCO,” Jaishankar tweeted.

The key focus areas of the SCO summit are startups, traditional medicine, youth empowerment, Buddhist heritage and science and technology, Jaishankar said.

“Looking forward to a successful CFM in Goa,” he tweeted. In another important development, Pakistan Minister of Foreign Affairs Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Thursday arrived in Goa to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Council of Foreign Ministers meeting. In a video shared on Twitter, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said he will hold meeting with his counterparts from Russia and Uzbekistan and attend a dinner hosted for all the Foreign Ministers in Goa.

“Assalamualaikum, we have reached Goa, India on the occasion of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). I will first hold meeting with Russian Foreign Minister. Then, he will hold a meeting with Uzbekistan Foreign Minister. I will attend the dinner hosted for all the foreign ministers and there are one-two interviews lined up in the day,” Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said in a video shared on Twitter. Sharing the video on Twitter, he stated, “Salaam, from Goa, India.”

The two-day-long meeting of Foreign Ministers of SCO member states began in Goa on Thursday. The first Pakistani foreign minister to visit India in almost 12 years, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said he looks forward to constructive discussions with his counterparts from friendly countries. In 2011, then Pakistan foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar visited India.

“I am happy to arrive in Goa for participating in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. I am leading the Pakistan delegation at SCO and hope that the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) will be successful,” Zardari said in a video shared by the spokesperson for Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Sources also highlighted that during the foreign ministers’ meeting, discussions will range on exchanging opinions regarding regional and global issues, as well as other topics of common interest, such as the reform and modernization of the eight-member organization.

India is hosting the foreign ministers’ conclave ahead of the annual summit of the grouping this July, also to be held in India. This year, India has the presidency of G-20 as well as SCO. As India hosts a range of important world leaders, the discussion is very much focused on creating a multi-polar world. India is emerging as an important power in the world and seems to be aligning with Russia and China in creating a truly multi-polar world. This may not be seen with great enthusiasm in the Western capitals but this seems to be the way forward for the international order.  

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